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Is owning a tortoise cruel?

Discussion in 'Debatable Topics' started by Buddybenj, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. kelii

    kelii Active Member

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    I don't thinks it's cruel to keep any animal captive, as long as it's properly cared for. Personally, I'd rather be a properly cared for captive animal than one struggling in the wild. The wild is a brutal place. There's a reason we don't live there any more :)
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  2. tortoishell

    tortoishell Active Member

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    I understand why you would think this, I honestly do. I don't think that destroying an animal's habitat is right at all, and we have no right to do it. Nonetheless, it is happening. Your tortoise may have come from a place that's heavily polluted, or being invaded by humans, you get the point. I believe is better for a tortoise to make a few sacrifices-less space, foraging, etc, and to have a safe place to sleep, mate, eat, than for a tortoise to have total freedom in the wild and die because of human causes (deforestation, pollution). Many species are endangered, and I think it is a great thing that we have so many experienced keepers to make their captive life as close to the wild as possible. Many of us, as mentioned before, are giving our lives to making sure animals are equal to us as they should be, and I have not met a single forum member that doesn't think of their tortoise before they think if their own preferences. I don't think we keep tortoises solely for our enjoyment. The rewards that both the owner and the tortoise get, when the latter is content, are heartwarming.
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  3. HappyHermanns

    HappyHermanns Active Member

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    :<3::<3:Very nicely put. :)
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  4. tortoishell

    tortoishell Active Member

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    :). Also, I think some keepers (it might have been Yvonne) run sanctuaries for tortoises that have been injured. Not all keepers do it for entertainment.
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  5. Riley ann

    Riley ann Member

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    I don’t see anything wrong as long as they are properly cared for and it’s not like we pull them out the wild. They don’t know any better.
  6. seanang168

    seanang168 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Keeping birds in a cage is the worst. Depriving them of freedom of flight
  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Yes we do pull some of them out of the wild, and as long as they are cared for properly and as long as we and not pulling too many out of the wild, there is nothing wrong with it. Every animal in captivity every where in the world was pulled out of the wild at some point. As Kelii noted earlier in the thread, the wild is a very cruel and harsh place. Lots of pain, suffering and death. Captivity, done correctly, is a much nicer place to live.
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I don't agree in all cases. In some cases, caged birds have a great life. Really depends on the species and situation.
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  9. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    My personal thoughts on this. I don’t expect anyone to agree and I shan’t post again in this thread. Shout me down if you must, but I want my say.

    I would rather have nature left in its own habitat and thriving.

    However, I am all too aware that in some parts of the world the natural environment has been, or is being, destroyed by my fellow human beings either directly or indirectly through things like climate change.

    I really wish I could wave a magic wand and sort it out, but all I can do is try to do what I can to reduce my impact on the environment and hope others do likewise.

    Rescuing wild animals for controlled breeding programmes is one thing. Taking them from the wild as pets where their genes are permanently lost to the wild gene pool is not something I am not at all comfortable with.

    So why did I own a wild caught tortoise?
    Joe was part of the package when I dated my now husband. He was caught at a time when people were considerably less environmentally aware than they are now - long before CITES.

    Would I own a wild caught tortoise again?
    Only if it was a pre CITES old-stager like Joe needing a new home. I would never consider owning any animal wild caught purely as a pet. I am comfortable with owning a captive bred tortoise.

    Yes, “the wild” is a dangerous place and has been for millennia. The fix for these animals is us humans cleaning up our act rather than taking animals and keeping them in our homes; they and their offspring can never be used to repopulate the wild. I’ll happily donate money to conservation programmes rescuing creatures properly, but I will never consider an animal caught for the pet trade as a good thing or as saving it from worse.

    I don’t think it is cruel to own a tortoise. They can live long, happy and healthy lives with us. It is only the circumstances that lead to them coming into the care of humans that I have strong opinions on.
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  10. Big Charlie

    Big Charlie Well-Known Member

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    I don't agree. I've had several pet birds. They didn't spend their entire lives in cages. They came out everyday, sat on my shoulder, and kept me company. They were put back in their cages for their safety at night. The relationship you develop with a bird can be as close and loving as that with a dog.

    My tortoise was captive bred. He wasn't snatched out his native environment. I believe I've given him the best life I could possibly give him.
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  11. Bee62

    Bee62 Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    The title of the thread is unfortunately inaccurate to my opinion. Owning a tortoise is not cruel, but cruelty is:

    1. Owning any animal that was caught in the wild and now kept in captivity in wrong conditions
    2. Owning any animal and neglect or abuse it

    It also depends on the intelligence of the animal if keeping it in captivity is cruel or not.
    A spider in a small glas vivarium will not suffer, but an ape will never be happy in a cage how big the cage might be.

    So when you own an animal you have the responsibility to keep it so "natural" as possible.
    That means that birds should be able to fly every day and only sleep in their cage, and it means that tortoises should have much space to roam. The right food and warmth and humidity naturally too. When these parameters are fullfilled, it is not cruel to own a tortoise.
    This is my opinion.
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  12. Alaskamike

    Alaskamike Well-Known Member

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    I have glanced at this thread occasionally without comment. Just interesting. This debate will continue with many people on all sides - some extreme.

    @Tom makes a valid point. The “ wild “ many wish to idealize is a brutal & unforgiving place. I’ve seen it , been out in it. There are many hazards.

    We humans can provide safety , food, security , vet care, but often at the expense of freedom.

    It often comes down to what animal is discussed. The social needs of various species varies greatly. Space, heat, water, need for other of same kind, foods vary. So does mental ability & awareness.

    Most animals , especially those with limited mental capacities live in the moment. Without going deeply into neurological brain chemistry, it is thought that living in the moment is commonplace. Ruminating on the past or worrying about the future is a higher function.

    There is no science to think that my Aldabra is much worried about tomorrow. Only it’s needs in the moment. Which I am able to fulfill.

    So no , I don’t think it is cruel to keep a tortoise. If done properly.
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  13. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I'm sad that you feel like anyone would want to shout you down. I have tremendous respect for you, and I happen to like you a whole bunch too. I don't want to shout you down, but I would love to have a respectful conversation with you, or anyone else on this subject.

    Who here hasn't seen footage of wildebeest being literally torn apart by crocodiles during the great migration, or a zebra being set upon by an entire pride of lions and then literally eaten alive, *** end first? We've seen what raccoons do to turtles here on the forum in our yards. Is there any reason to think they don't do that in the wild?

    Even if wild animals are living in pristine wilderness, where humans have not yet ruined things, it is still a torturous existence. Ever had an off day where you just didn't feel 100%. Maybe you were feeling a little tired and dragging your feet a bit… If a wild animal has one day like that, they die. Some predator grabs them and literally eats them alive. Then think about how your final days will be. Sure, some of us will die in unexpected accidents, but most of us will die in a comfy hospital bed with pain meds and medical care doing everything possible to make us feel comfortable as we pass on. Wild animals almost always die a slow, horrible, painful death. Starvation, drought, predation, disease… Even the slightest injury can be a death sentence for an animal in the wild. Regarding tortoises, how many babies die for every one that makes it to maturity? The numbers I've seen range from 300-1000.

    In light of these facts, I don't have any problem saving a wild animal from a horrible and painful death, and bringing them into a safe captive environment where all of their needs will be met every day, with no predation, and top notch medical care for anything and everything. I would have a problem if too many of a given species were being taken, but there is nothing wrong with taking sustainable numbers. I've been working with wild caught animals since the 80s, and let me tell you, captivity ain't bad compared to the trials and tribulations of the wild. You know where wild hawks go when it rains? Nowhere. They sit in the rain and suffer. If they get too cold and burn to many calories, or their feathers get to waterlogged to fly well and hunt, they starve to death. But they don't starve to death over night. It takes days. Days of their body digesting itself in a futile attempt to stay alive. Not my hawk. I kidnapped her out of the wild totally against her will. Then I ran fecal after fecal on her until I had rid her body of three separate diseases that would surely have killed her, plus two species of parasitic worms that were taking a toll, plus feather mites that were literally eating her alive, plus these little flat parasitic flies that I've always called sheep keds, but I think they are in the family Hippoboscidae.

    We will certainly all agree that over-collection of wild animals is a problem, but I'm not sure if we can agree that collecting sustainable numbers is just fine. I think it is. Like the deer populations. In areas where they ban hunting, the deer become overpopulated, the parasites and diseases become epidemic and the ecosystem becomes terribly out of balance. Not good for the deer or any other species in the area. By contrasts, managing the population and keeping the correct numbers for a given area creates a healthy deer population and ecosystem.
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  14. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a strange argument to me since almost all of us are living in the "wild", no matter if it's a forest, a desert or an urban jungle. but although our lifes can be very harsh and dangerous most of us still prefer it over prison, don't we?
    Of course that does not necessarily mean a tortoise would make the same choice, it's a pity we can't just ask them.
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  15. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    People are scared of you,Tom, people know how you are likely to react. I know I am. Rightly or wrongly, that is the truth.
    Of course we've all seen nature red in tooth and claw. Are you saying we are "good" because we can stop crocs eating wildebeest or lions eating zebras? That our responsibility is to protect these poor things by sticking them in zoos and feeding the predators "humanely" killed snacks?
    You are comparing humans to other animals, yet again, in your hospital remarks, this is irrelevant, you cannot compare this to the natural world, though millions of humans do still die horrible and pointless deaths due to disease, starvation and even, sometimes because of animal attacks, including other humans.
    You are not some sort of hero because you are, "saving a wild animal from a horrible and painful death," what gives you the right to decide what lives and what dies? Rescuing a gnu just results in fewer gnus for the lions to eat, they'll eat another one instead, ergo fewer gnus and fewer lions. Who decides "sustainable numbers" ? You and your mates, I suppose. Which ones do you take, and which ones do you leave behind? We need genetic variation, so how do you tell which ones are not related? I'm pretty sure the collectors will take the healthy, pretty, strong animals, not the mangy or unattractive ones.
    And your hawk story is an odd one to use as an example, fascinating stuff, but how do you know it would be dead if it were still in the wild ? It may have had babies by now, but with you it certainly hasn't. Okay it had parasites, but are you saying you would have released it if it hadn't ? Of course you wouldn't. And, and I'm sorry to say it, but your last one died anyway.

    The deer become "overpopulated" because either they don't have enough room left to expand into, or because people have shot all their natural predators. Ecosystems will remain healthy if you just leave them alone. If there is extinction, suffering, death and evolution, that's fine, that's what's been going on for billions of years without the need for you to intervene. I know man has tipped the balance and we are now experiencing the sixth great extinction, but protected areas, conservation and education are the way forward, not keeping the animals in our houses. Rescues, like my torts, are one thing, captive bred, okay, but taking animals from the wild to fulfill our own selfish needs is wrong.
  16. mark1

    mark1 Well-Known Member

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    honestly i have no doubt the same way most die in captivity .....most are bought and thought of as disposable objects , if they weren't the US would be overrun with adult red eared sliders , sulcatas , caimans , parrots , goldfish , horses , boas , pythons and on and on ....... the only problems i've ever seen with over population of exotics are ones that have escaped into suitable wild environments ............
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  17. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Your assumption that an animal would view captivity as a "prison" doesn't bear out in reality. Because a human might feel that way, does not mean an animal would. I illustrate this point with chimps and dogs. Chimps do not like to be contained in crates. It goes against their nature. DOgs on the other hand, being den animals, enjoy and seek out tiny little confined spaces. It makes a dog feel safe and secure to stuff themselves into a tiny hole in the ground. Given the choice, dogs will choose a small area of confinement for their sleeping quarters.

    Further, I don't know how it is in your town, but where I live within an insulted housed, electricity, hot and cold running water, heating and air conditioning, two refrigerators and freezers, vehicles to ride around in with A/C and heat, plus just about any comfort or amenity you can think of, no, I think a very small percentage of humans are living in the "wild" on this planet.
  18. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Really? How many of your personal animals have died this way? How many of mine?

    What are you basing this off of? I see a lot of captive animals on a daily basis. Animals have been my career and profession since the mid 80s. I don't see most animals dying this way in captivity. Surely we all know that some small percentage of people are neglectful or abusive, but to say "most"? No. That has not been my observation. Nowhere near most.
  19. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    I think the subject question is misleading. Having an animal isn't cruel, but how the animal is taken care of can sometimes be pretty darned cruel.
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  20. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I can't argue with anyone's feelings. People feel how they feel. But I don't understand why anyone would be afraid of some guy typing words on the internet. What? Do you think I'm going to fly to Morocco and offer to exchange fisticuffs with you if you type something I don't like? You are my friend and so is Joe's Mum. Nothing to fear and no reason we can't have a conversation on a topic we disagree upon. Discussion is a good thing. We can learn more about the subject matter and learn more about each other's POV.

    Is it our responsibility to save all wild animals from harm? Of course not. Is it our prerogative to save some of them? Sure. Why not?

    The hospital reference is in relation to how most humans will die, in comparison to how most wild animals will die.

    Hero? Hmm… This paragraph made me stop and think. In answer to your question: In some cases, yes, the people taking animals from the wild are heroes. Some examples: The peregrin falcon, California condor, Burmese star tortoise, Giant panda, and the sulcata tortoise in many parts of its range. All of these would be extinct if it weren't for the efforts of people who took them from the wild and undertook the difficult process of captive breeding and reintroduction. Is someone a hero for saving one wildebeest from the jaws of a croc. No. I don't think so, but if that wildebeest had human powers of logic and reason, I bet he would. So yes, sometimes taking animals from the wild is a heroic thing to do. I wish that humans hadn't created these dire situations that require rescue in the first place, but that is a whole 'nother discussion.

    Who decides the numbers that are "sustainable"? Entire teams and departments of trained wildlife biologists who spend their lives observing what takes place out in the wild, collecting and evaluating population data, and adjusting policy annually to keep the wild populations at optimal health and density. Me and my mates have absolutely no say in the matter.

    Next question: What gives me the right to decide? I've pondered this one many times. I answer it with some questions: What gives the lion the right to prey upon the zebra? What gives the tortoise the right to decimate a sprouting weed patch? What gives you the right to eat whatever you ate last night for dinner? I don't see this as a question of "rights". I see it more of a question of "right or wrong". Some people seem to have this aversion to collecting or taking any animals from the wild as if it is all bad all the time and they want nothing to do with it, and the practice and the people who engage in the practice are to be insulted and vilified as if they are evil and don't care about the ecosystem or the world. I don't see it this way. Can people go too far and do too much? Absolutely! They have and they do. I think those people deserve this vilification, but not everyone who takes animals from the wild is a villain, nor are they always doing harm to the environment or the species. If we didn't take some animals from the wild, some populations would eventually be decimated and entire eco-systems would crash. This has been scientifically demonstrated many times. African elephant policies in neighboring countries is a highly visible demonstration of this. Deer population here in CA is another.

    Finally, when discussing genetic diversity, we are talking about populations of millions of animals here. Removing a few animals for food, or for the pet trade, will have zero effect on the genetic diversity of wild populations and does no harm. Removing millions of a given species while simultaneously destroying their natural habitat can and does have a devastating effect as we all know. The former practice is fine with my conscience, the latter should be condemned and halted at every possible turn.

    Odd? I think it serves as a perfect example. Let's apply your questions to it:
    1. Am I a hero for saving this hawk? I think so. Whether you or anyone else thinks so is up to them.
    2. Would this bird have died if left in the wild? Medical science, statistics, and past experience all say yes.
    3. What gives me the right? The state of CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. In addition to the right, they also gave me a license.
    4. Babies? No. She is still an immature animal, not capable of reproduction, and we are only allowed to capture first year juveniles. When I eventually turn her loose, she will be super healthy, free of disease, a better hunter than her wild counterparts that didn't participate in falconry, and the likelihood of her surviving and reproducing is exceedingly high.
    5. Yes. My last one died. Despite tremendous time, effort and expense as well as veterinary assistance from one of the very few board certified avian vets in the entire country, the perils of the wild caught up to her, and she could not be saved. But I sure tried. The disease she contracted while flying around free and in the wild killed her.
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