Pet Kangaroos and Wallabies!
There are several populations of wild wallabies spread around the world. These populations originally have been released from zoos which have closed, or have been illegally taken from Australia. They are often sold as pets, and then released, when their buyers realise how difficult they are to look after.
Wild feral populations now occur in Hawaii, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Asia, and the United States. There have also been odd sightings of individuals in Europe, no doubt escapees.
It is currently illegal to export live native animals from Australia, under the Federal Environment and Protection of Biodiversity Act 1999, but in other countries they are considered a feral pest, and have no protection. All these animals are the pathetic and unwilling victims of the exotic pet trade.
In the United States and Canada, red and grey kangaroos are also bred for pets, and for sale to zoos and wildlife parks. Reports we receive indicate that the death toll is very high amongst these animals, as quite often they are restrained in small yards. Few overseas veterinarians know anything about them, and macropods do succumb very easily to stress-related diseases.
At the same time, we kow many of them are well looked after by their loving owners, but, should an animal that in Nature ranges over hundreds of kilometers,be kept in a back yard?
Some species of wallabies, including the parma and tammar, are being legally exported alive from New Zealand and other countries, and are being sold in cages in pet shops in the US, Greece, and Japan. In Japan they sell for around $1500 Au, and in Greece for $1000 Au.
Above; Wallabies and kangaroos cannot be house-trained. Nor should they mix with domestic animals, they can catch diseases off them. Wallabies and kangaroos need a very big grassed area to live in, and company of their own kind.
Some Australian Industry groups have argued that they should be allowed to live export these native animals to be sold as pets. So far, quite rightly, the Federal Government has resisted these proposals.
In Australia, only Victoria and South Australia have legislation allowing the sale of macropods as pets. Discussions with pet shop owners and wildlife carers in those States however, indicate the legislation has turned out to be a disaster for the animals.
Wildlife groups vigorously opposed this legislation when it was introduced, saying it would provide a backdoor for wildlife traffickers to move animals around. Well, it did that, and now there is no doubt that this legislation, poorly monitored and policed, has contributed in no small way to the further facilitation of wildlife trafficking.
Above; A wallaby in a cage in pet shop in Japan. These unfortunate animals are kept in apartments until their owners get sick of them, or they die of boredom.
The following story appeared in the Sydney Daily telegraph, on 21/5/07. It has also appeared on many overseas news outlets.
Sydney - Australian conservationists are upset to learn that kangaroos and their smaller cousins, wallabies are being exported to be kept in confined spaces as pets, according to Wednesday's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Wallabies are being touted to Americans and Asians on internet sites as excellent inside pets, with tips to keep them in nappies and walk them on leashes, reported the newspaper.
The mammals being sold overseas are mainly bred from neighbouring New Zealand colonies exported years ago before the Australian government banned their overseas sale.
National Kangaroo Protection Coalition co-coordinator Pat O'Brien said complaints made to New Zealand over live wallaby exports had fallen on deaf ears over the years.
'It's absolutely disgraceful,' he said. 'Most of the wallabies go to Asia and are then distributed from there.'
O'Brien said the trade in certain Asian countries strongly suggested that wallabies were seen as novelty pets. And he raised concern that with the majority of people living in apartments, the mammals that grace Australia's wide-open spaces are destined to live out their days in cramped cages.
'People try to treat them like dogs and keep them in rooms but it's just wrong,' O'Brien said.
His concerns were backed by the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, which is worried people who get the mammals as pets have little idea how to properly care for them.
'A lot of them don't know how to look after wildlife and they have no idea about their dietary needs,' council president Maryland Wilson said. * Deutsche Presse-Agentur