'Wild animals must stay wild'

2010-07-29 12:33

Cape Town - Panjo may be safely back home after his two-day romp, but for the NSPCA, the incident has highlighted their concerns about the taming of wild animals and keeping them as pets.

"Wild animals are wild, they belong in the wild. Especially predators," Brenda Santon of the NSPCA's wildlife unit told News24.

Santon said while predators like tigers and lions might be "cuddly and cute" as cubs, they soon "grow bigger and destructive in the house".

"An animal that was once pampered now has to be put in a cage," Santon said, adding that it then faces "a life of boredom".

According to media reports, the 17-month-old Panjo is kept as a house pet and even sometimes sleeps in his owner Goosey Fernades's bed.

"What happens when he becomes sexually mature and gets aggressive? Will he be put out of the house?" said Santon, who acknowledged that Panjo and his owner seem to have a strong bond.

Legal issues

"What are the long-term prospects of this animal?" Santon said. "He needs to be in a place where he can lead a healthy and natural life."

Male tigers reach sexual maturity at around 4-years-old.

Santon also expressed concern over the transportation of Panjo in a bakkie from which he escaped on Monday night as Fernandes was taking him to the vet.

Various media reported that Fernandes had denied allegations that he may not have all the necessary paperwork needed to keep a tiger in Mpumalanga.

The Mpumalanga Parks Board told News24 it would not comment on whether Panjo's registration met all its requirements or not.

Fernandes was not immediately available for comment.