Take firmer action against trade in exotic pets

In recent years, the number of cases involving the keeping of exotic animals as pets has increased, and it is a worrying trend (Exotic, cool... and illegal; June 4).

Such animals often have dietary and activity needs that are hard to meet in a densely populated city like Singapore.

Expert handling is also required when dealing with wild animals.

According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), wild animals are not suitable pets as some may transmit zoonotic diseases to humans and can be a public safety risk if mishandled, or if they escape into our dense urban environment.

When the novelty of owning exotic animals wears off, their careless release also becomes an issue.

Invasive species compete with native flora and fauna for limited resources.

They could also introduce new viruses and parasites.

When the novelty of owning exotic animals wears off, their careless release also becomes an issue. Invasive species compete with native flora and fauna for limited resources. They could also introduce new viruses and parasites.

Those found guilty under the Wild Animals and Birds Act face a fine of not more than $1,000 an animal.

Most offenders get away without imprisonment.

In contrast, the trade in exotic animals is so lucrative. Singapore is believed to be one of the world's top 10 wildlife smuggling hubs, according to wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.

To be a more effective deterrent, the Act should be amended to include harsher penalties.

Joyce-Marie Chan En Le (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2017, with the headline 'Take firmer action against trade in exotic pets'. Print Edition | Subscribe