Chupacabra, Oshi and Patches were exotic pets that their owners could no longer care for. They all found a home at the Oregon Zoo.
Chupacabra is Patagonian
mara and he was found
wandering the streets of Eugene.
Maras are rodents, which
means they are chewers,
and they are also diggers, so they need
a pretty secure enclosure.
And as evidenced by Chupacabra,
it can be easy for them to escape.
are not a lot of places
that can take in an exotic pet
if it's unwanted anymore.
These rescued pets allow
us to share the story
of what responsible pet
ownership looks like
and how our decisions
can have a real impact
on the local wildlife.
Oshi was given to a young
woman in Washington
as a Christmas present.
Her father sent her a
baby toucan in a box.
And after a few months she realized
that was not a good idea.
In a regular household,
it can be challenging
to provide the needs an
exotic animal might require,
because of everything from
having a nutritionist,
like we do at the zoo, to tell you exactly
what diet it is to finding
the right veterinary care.
One of the advantages that Oshi has
in his life here at the Oregon Zoo
is that he gets to fly outside and display
all of the natural behaviors that a toucan
would get to demonstrate in the wild.
demand for exotic animals
has led to an illegal pet trade
that has resulted in many animals
being stolen from the wild.
Patches was hit by a car here in Oregon,
and they are obviously
not native to this area
so that's how we know that she was a pet.
We're not sure if she escaped
from her owner's backyard
or if she had been released on purpose.
Zoo veterinarians actually created
a fiberglass patch and
applied it to her back.
They actually sculpted and
painted it to match her shell.
Without the intervention
of the Oregon Zoo,
Patches certainly would not have survived
on her own in the wild.
This is not the proper
climate for a desert tortoise,
and we are grateful that we have her here
and we're able to give her that care.
Unfortunately, when people find that they
can no longer care for an animal
and there aren't a lot
of options for them,
they may choose to release
those into the wild.
And we are seeing growing populations
of non-native species
threatening our local wildlife.
We're finding that people had them as pets
and have released them into the ponds.
They are thriving and, unfortunately,
out-competing our native
western pond turtle populations.
Our choices about exotic
pet and responsible
pet ownership really
impact a healthy planet.
All of these species are wild animals,
and humans made a decision
that impacted their lives.
That means they're
spent in human care now.
And I feel that we are obligated to ensure
that that's the highest
level of care we can provide.