I’m not talking about cats & dogs, which are domesticated and, dare I say, happy to be with us. But I faced this ethical dilemma when I used to have fish tanks. (Something I absolutely loved doing, but I stopped for reasons not related to this question.)
Is it ethical to keep a wild animal as a pet? When I started keeping saltwater fish, I was faced with the thought that these fish are taken directly from the ocean just a couple weeks before you see them in the stores (often through means that are damaging to the fish and the reef they came from). Wild populations are reduced/weakened. The fish are then confined in small tanks rather than the endless ocean they are used to (some fish don’t seem to mind whereas others seem to continually “pace” back and forth). A good fraction of the captured saltwater fish die from the stress of being captured, transported, and put in a strange tank (therefore, more are captured than are needed). Freshwater fish that are sold have it a little easier in that they are often born in tanks and don’t stress out as easily.
Perhaps keeping wild pets is selfish, but it also can teach a lot about the animal worl (“you cannot save what you do not understand”).
Basically, I came to this conclusion…saltwater fish should not be kept as pets at all unless the owner is dedicated to providing the best possible living conditions (large tank, good simulation of natural habitat, proper feeding, etc.). Keeping freshwater fish is more acceptable, provided they have a decent tank and are obtained from tank-raised stock.
Anyway, I’m curious as to what others here think about this topic…or the keeping of any non-domesticated animal.
(hopefully I’m not anthropomorphizing too much, but I think that animals do have some sense of emotions)