Monday, February 27, 2017

Koala, anyone? Australians asked to adopt native animal....

A push to allow native animals to be kept as pets by Australia’s threatened species commissioner has opened a debate about whether kangaroos, wombats and koalas belong in the nation’s living rooms and back gardens.
Gregory Andrews, a government spokesman, said Australians should be allowed to domesticate some native animals rather than keeping species such as dogs, rabbits and cats. He said it would be “patriotic” for families to take in animals that “define who we are as a nation”.
 “I can’t think of anything more patriotic than choosing to own an Australian animal,” he told The Australian newspaper. “People can pay pounds 1,500 to pounds 6,000 [$AUS2,500-$10,000; Dh7,034-Dh28,138] for a designer poodle. 
Why not... pay even 10 per cent of that to own a critically endangered orange-bellied parrot to help conserve that species?” But the proposal prompted a backlash from animal right groups that warned that creatures such as kangaroos will “trash” houses.
Some of the fiercest critics were those who have experience of keeping the creatures at home. In the small town of Robertson, 80 miles south-west of Sydney, Richard Woodman and his wife Kerstin Schweth stridently opposed the commissioner’s proposal, even as a wombat named Ava, a tiny eastern grey kangaroo named Lily and a kangaroo-like wallaroo named Eric gently strutted about the fur-strewn couch in their living room. Despite the common myth about kangaroos living in Australian back gardens, such sights are rare.
Woodman and Schweth are allowed to keep the animals at home because they are authorised carers for injured and orphaned animals. The couple will return the orphaned creatures to the wild — once the animals are rehabilitated — and strongly oppose calls to allow them as pets. “They might be cute and cuddly when they’re little but they will trash your house once they grow up,”
Woodman told The Daily Telegraph. “They require a lot more care and attention than cats and dogs. A wombat will tear the chair off a wooden table. A kangaroo could attack you if they became dependent on humans feeding them and then it’s not given.” Schweth added: “Native animals belong in the wild, not in a living room. They jump on everything and pee and poop.” 
Most states in Australia allow various native birds, reptiles and amphibians such as budgerigars, snakes and frogs to be kept domestically, though a licence is sometimes required. But it is mostly illegal to keep most mammals, including some of the country’s best-known creatures such as kangaroos, wallabies and koalas.
In New South Wales, the most populous state, the environment department says native mammals such as kangaroos are prone to stress-related diseases that can be caused by contact with humans and pets such as cats and dogs. 
In addition, they become aggressive on reaching sexual maturity and “can become quite dangerous to humans”. Woodman, 69, and Schweth, 54, currently care for 23 orphaned and injured animals, including 11 eastern grey kangaroos, eight wombats, two wallaroos and two swamp wallabies. Both are retired from their respective jobs as a pilot and advertising executive and spend much of their day attending to the animals. 
Young kangaroos, for instance, can need up to six feeds a day. “People who take them home will give up and want to return them to the wild — which could be a death sentence because they have become dependent on humans and are no longer used to living in the wild,” Schweth said. Wildlife and animal rights groups such as the RSPCA have largely rejected calls to allow native animals as pets, saying some owners will not feed them properly and may grow tired of them.' 
- Daily Telegraph

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