Target: Rick Scott, Governor of Florida
Goal: Protect kinkajou from public exploitation, which is unfair to the animal and dangerous to humans
At night on Duval Street, the epicenter of tourism in Key West, Florida, a man can be found charging tourists money to hold and take pictures with a kinkajou. The nocturnal rainforest mammal is native to Central and South America. Florida is one of the few states where is legal to own a kinkajou. The man charging tourists to hold it may have a permit, but that doesn’t mean that it is humane, or even safe. Though thought of as cute and cuddly, kinkajous can become aggressive when they feel threatened or agitated. They don’t like sudden movement or loud noises. Their bite is toxic, and will mostly certainly ensure a trip to the hospital. In severe cases or if left untreated, the bite can be fatal. Tell the government of Florida to make it illegal to expose kinkajous to the public.
Key West is a spot where many go to have a good time. Vacationers can be regularly spotted intoxicated at 2 pm on a Tuesday, and who can blame them? It is extremely unfair to subject this animal that doesn’t like noise to crowds of tourists, especially one’ who are drunk and may not have the motor skills to handle it with care. Children and drunken people who act like children can be seen pulling on its tail or being too rough with it. Being used for entertainment is no life for a kinkajou. The needs of a rainforest mammal simply cannot be met when it is made into a pet.
Ethical reasons aside, even the calmest kinkajou could bite humans. Kinkajous are known to carry a unique bacterium called Kingella potus, and also commonly carry Baylisascaris procyonis, or raccoon roundworm. These can both be transmitted to humans and cause severe infection. Most people haven’t even heard of a kinkajou, and wouldn’t know what to do if bitten by one. In 2011, a zoologist in Indiana had to be extensively hospitalized when his pet kinkajou bit him. Even those who are trained in handling exotic animals run the risk of being bitten. Paris Hilton adopted a kinkajou, which ended up biting her badly. This animal should have never been made into a pet in the first place. After being raised domestically, it won’t have the skills it needs to survive in the wild. The kinkajou is a jungle animal; it is not meant to be domestic. It has needs that cannot be met in someone’s home. Tell the government of Florida to make it illegal to exploit the kinkajou and endanger the public to its dangerous bite.
Dear Governor Scott,
At night on the island of Key West, a man charges tourists to hold and take pictures with a kinkajou. The kinkajou is a nocturnal jungle animal native to Central and South America. While it has become trendy to own one as a pet in the U.S., there can be dangerous consequences. Kinkajous carry bacteria that can cause severe infection in humans that are bitten.
Kinkajous are wild animals. They don’t like loud noises or sudden movements. They might look cute and cuddly, but they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Most tourists have never heard of a kinkajou and don’t know this, and aren’t aware of the dangers of being bitten by one. Especially in Key West, heavily intoxicated vacationers can be seen grabbing the kinkajou by its talk or handling it too rough. This could scare the animal and cause it to bite. Its one thing for someone to purchase this animal knowing the risks, but these tourists have no clue, they just want to hold the cute animal. It is also unfair to exploit this animal this way, with strangers constantly in its face and grabbing it. Make it illegal to exploit the kinkajou in this manner, and protect the public from its dangerous bite.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Luca5 via Flickr