Finance

Revenge of goldfish! Attention exotic pet owners – what NOT to do when you become bored hooman

Releasing pets into the wild is becoming more common now.

Pets and natural environment: People love having exotic pets instead of native breeds, like getting Golden Retrievers or Huskies or even Goldfish. While these pets are beautiful and justify being among the “chosen ones”, sometimes owners can change their minds after caring for the pets for some time or they are unable to continue to care for them and so release them into the wild. Usually people do not give a second thought to this, because they are a part of the fauna and can therefore be released into nature, right? Well, not quite. The exotic pets might not be suited for the environment that the owners live in – for instance, Huskies are common and wanted in India, but this breed is meant to thrive in colder regions and is therefore miserable in the tropical temperatures of Southeast Asia.

But this issue is not confined to India alone. Earlier this month, the Twitter handle of the City of Burnsville in the US requested residents not to release their pet goldfish into the local ponds and lakes, because it grows much bigger than people anticipate and then causes the water quality to become poor, while also uprooting the plants in the water body.

Releasing pets into the wild is becoming more common now as people who got pets during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown are finding it hard to maintain the upkeep as offices are opening up. As a result, animals are being released out in the open since pet owners do not really know what to do with their pets. Some people are not aware of the fact that not every pet species can be released into the wild in their local vicinity, since the pet species can harm the local ecosystem or vice versa.

Still confused about why fish or other pets should not be released into the local ecosystem? So were we, so, to understand more about this, Financial Express Online talked to the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO).

“It has been found that fishes are sentient beings. They feel pain, they get stressed out, they play and they are living, breathing, intelligent animals. The ideal option is to not have ornamental fishes as pets, so that there is a decline in their commercialisation and exploitation which take them away from their natural habitats. Having said that, if people already have kept fish as pets, releasing them into the wild – be it a pond, river, or sea – is a bad idea not just for the individual fish, but for the ecosystem into which they are released,” the organisation said.

But why is it bad? “Not only could an individual non-native fish be omnivorous – eating and growing to large proportions, but also, if it is a bottom feeder, it can muddy up the water, prey on other species, and infect local fish populations with parasites that are common to the ornamental fish,” FIAPO added.

“Non-native invasive species can potentially alter aquatic ecosystems and affect the local biodiversity – it often leads to the elimination of vital components of the food chain, thereby resulting in the extinction of the local species. The cases of such accidental and/or intentional release are well documented with their harmful effects on the local ecosystem,” it further explained.

Every local ecosystem has some species that are local to that area and therefore, suitable for it, since all the flora and fauna in that area interact with each other in a sustainable manner. A foreign species that does not belong to that ecosystem can disbalance it by behaving the way that it does which the local ecosystem might not be in a position to accommodate.

So, next time you wish to give your pet away, instead of releasing it into the wild, either give it to someone else who can take care of it, or reach out to animal shelters so that the pet as well as the ecosystem remain unharmed.

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