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Wild Animals Kept in Costa Rican Households - Drews 2001

Wild Animals Kept in Costa Rican Households - Drews 2001

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Carlos Drews
ildAn
imals
and O
th
erPetsKeptin CostaRican
Ho
us
ehold
s:Incid
en
ce,Species and
Nu
mb
er
s
ABSTRACTA nationwide survey that includedpersonalinterviewsin 1021 householdsstudied theincidence, speci
es,
and numbers of non human animalskept inCostaRican households.Atotalof71
%
of householdskeepanimals.Theproportion of householdskeep ingdogs(53%)is3.6higherthan the prop
ort
ion of households keepingcats(15%).Inaddition tothe u
sual
domestic or com panion animalskept in66%
of
the households,24%of house holdskeep wildspeciesaspets.Althoughparrotsarethebulkof wildspecies keptaspets,thereisvas speciesdiversit
y,
includingother birds,reptiles,mammals,amphibians,fishes, and inverteb rates-typicallycaught intheirnatural habitat to saisfythe pet market.The extraction fromthewild and the keeping ofsuch animalsisby-and-Iargeillegal andoften involvesendangered species.Costa Ricans,ina conservativeestimate, keep about 151,288parrots as pets. Morethanhalftherespondentshave kepta psttacidatsome point in theirlives.Pet keepingisa common practicein Costa
Rican
societ
y,
andits incidenceis high byinternationalstandards KEY
WORD
S:captivity.pet, psittacid, wildlife,culture,illegal, biodiversit
y,
conservation, animalprotection, welfare
Petkeepinghabits are one manifestation of there lationshipbe
tween
societyand n
atu
re.N
onhu
mananimals
commo
nlyare kept ascompanion
anima
ls(domesticpets)in manysocieties,
but
data abo
ut
Society
&
An
imal
s 9,2(2001)
©
KoninklijkeBrillNV,L
eiden
,2001
 
the incidence of this habit
and
the species involved are available for
just
afew of them.Surveys conducted in the United States suggest that a little more
than
half of the
households
keep a pet. Good
Housekeeping Consumer
PanelReport (1962) notes 58%of Americans; AVMA (1997), 59%of households. Similarly,
about
half of
Dutch households
keep at least one
pet
(Vinke, 1998).In a German sample of 1 484 attendants to an
adult
education program, Schulz(1985)
found that
in the
preceding
two years
47.5%
owned
a
companion
animal, excluding
birds
or horses.
About
64% of Australian
households
own
pets
(McHarg, Baldock, Heady,
&
Robinson, 1995; INEC, 1999).
Although
the vast majority of
pets
are domestic animals -typically dogs, cats,or captive-bred birds,
and
fishes-there is a proportion of wild animals
among
them.
Numerous
wild
animals are the subjects of legal
and
illegal international
trade
to satisfy the
market
of exotic
pets
(Inskipp, 1975; Nilsson, 1977,1979,1981; Nilsson
&
Mack,1980;
Poten
,1991; Fitzgerald, 1989; AWl
&
EIA,1992; Hemley, 1994).Most of these species are native to tropical countries
and
wild
caught
(Clapp
&
Banks, 1973; Clapp, 1975). Some are
kept
as
pets
intheir countries of originas well,
but
the incidence of this habit is
much
more
poorly documented
there
than
in
the
importing
countries.
International
wildlife
trade
has
been
the focus of attention from the perspective of speciesconservation
and
animal protection considerations. The
same
concerns
apply
to
trade
of
animals
for the
pet
market
within tropical countries,
but
the evi
dent
lack of
data has
obscured
thus
far the
magnitude
of the
phenomenon
(Perez, 1999).The occurrence of
wild
species
among pets
has
been studied,
at least in the
United
States, Germany,
and
England. In a
sample
of
Ll.S.
students, 22.5%reported keeping
wild
animals at
home
(Pomerantz, 1977;Kellert, 1980).Aney
and Cowan
(1974), cited in Kellert (1980),
report
that
8% of Oregonians keepa
wild
animal native to the United States as a pet. In a
nationwide
survey
of
Amer
ican
adults
(Kellert, 1980), 13.3%
reported owning
a
wild
animal
pet
other
than
a
bird
during
the 10 years preceding the study. In Germany, 9.2%of the interviewees reported having
kept
a
wild
animal at
home
at some
point
during
the preceding
ten
years (Schulz,1985). In a
survey
of 2530 school stu
dents
from South East England,10%
reported
having kept reptiles or amphibians as pets, 60%of
which
had
been
caught
from the
wild rather than
bought
from a
pet
shop
(Smart
&
Bride, 1993).
108Carlos
Drew
s
The majority of non-domestic species
kept
as
pets
are birds, mostly parrots.Captive-bred parakeets,
such
as
budgerigars and
cockatiels, commonly are
kept
as
pet birds
(Nilsson, 1981). In 1962, 13%of American
households
were
reported
to keep a
pet
bird
(Good
Housekeeping Consumer
Panel
Report
,1962).
Almost
all
were
psittacids (81%
parakeets
and
2%parrots),
and
therest
were
canaries (17%).In 1978, 10%of American
respondents
of a nation
wide survey reported owning
a
pet
bird
during
the
preceding two years
,
whereas
42%
owned
a pet
bird
at
some
point
in life (Kellert, 1980). In
that
study,
the
majority of
bird
species
ever
owned
wereparakeets
(60%),fol
lowed
by canaries (19%),
and
parrots
and
cockatoos (5%).A preference shift
among
Americans from psittacids
bred
locally
toward
exotic parrots can beinferred from a more than ten-fold increase in the
number
of imported macaws
between
1970
and
1978 (Nilsson, 1979).Similarly, Kellert (1980) finds
that
species
kept
by Connecticut children also
suggest
a shift from
parakeetstoward
exotic
parrotsand mynahs
(genus
Acridotheres, Gracula
or
Ampeliceps).
The majority of
such
exotic birds are typ_ically taken from
the wild
(Clapp
&
Banks, 1973; Clapp, 1975). A
bird
waskept
by 30%of the
German respondents
during
the
two
years preceding the
survey
(Schulz, 1985),
whereas
18% of
Australian households
owned
a
pet
bird
at the time of the
study
(www.petnet.com.au!statistics.html. 17.3.2000).There are no
nationwide studies about
pet-keeping habits in
the
countries
that supply most
wild
species for the international
pet
market
(Fitzgerald,1989).
Although
Costa Rica traditionally
hasnot
been an exporting
country
for wildlife (Cedeno
&
Drews, 1999;
G6mez
&
Drews, 2000),
many
of theCentral American species that
enter
international trade occur there. This
study
aims at a characterization of
pet
keeping
habits in Costa Rican society,
with
an
emphasis
on
wild
animals. In this report, I
present
the incidence of
pet
keeping for various species of
wild
and
domestic animals.
Methods
The
nationwide sample
consisted of 1021 Costa Rican
adults
and
their households. The
primary sampling
unit was
the census segment, a
predefined set
of
about
40-60
households used
as the basic
unit
for the logistical
planning
of a
national
census.A total of 278 (2.6%)
such
segments were
randomly
Wild Animals andOther Pets KeptinCosta RicanHouseholds• 109
 
selectedfromthe
na
tional total of10,535 segments ofthe1984
popul
ationcensuswith aprobability proportionaltotheir size. The seco
nda
rysamplingunits were the households wit
hin
eachsegment.Theinterviewer visited these syst
ema
ticallyand clockwisefromarandomstarting poi
ntunt
ilthesex
and
ageq
uota
for thatsegment wascovered.This sys
tem
usuallyyieldedfive h
ous
eholdssa
mpl
ed by eachintervi
ewer
per seg
men
tin a day. Onlyone adultwasinterv
iew
ed ineach hou
seh
old
.The maxi
mum
sampli
ng
e
rror
associ
ated
tothe1021 adults or
hou
seholds was3.1%for a95%confidence
int
erval.The sourceof demo
gr
a
phi
cinfo
rm
ation about Co
sta
Rica for thevalidation ofthe sample wasthe1999
popul
ationprojectionof the CentralA
mer
icanPopulationProgram oftheUniversityofCostaRica(http:
//
populi.eest.ucr.ac.cr).Proportions ofdemogr
aph
ic groupsa
mo
ng theCostaRicanp
opul
ati
on
ares
how
n
in
bra
cketsnexttothe
pr
oportion of
that
group inthesa
mpl
e.Households re
pre
s
entin
g urbanand ruralse
gments
were cho
sen
accordingtoaquota based on thenat
ion
aldistributionofthesecharacteristics, yield ing 47.8%(48.3%) urban
and
52.2%(51.7%)r
ura
l hou
seh
olds.A
pr
e-established quota for sexandageclassescontributed tothe similarity between thesampleand thenat
ion
aldemog
rap
hy. Quotasfor adultswere b
alan
ced withrespect to sex
rat
ioineachage class.There
sult
ing overallsexratio
amo
ngadults
int
ervie
wed
was 48.8%(50.0%)maleand51.2%(50.0%) female.Ageclassesweredi
stributed
asfoll
ow
s:35.7%(36.3%)of18-29years, 51% (47.6%)of30-49 years, and13.3% (16.1%)of 50years ormore.Thedis tributionofageclassesdeparted slightly,
but
significantly,f
rom
thenational 1999p
opul
ationprojection.Analyses discriminatingbetweenageclasses were weighedaccordingly. Thesocioeconomic levelofeachhousehold
was
determined fromamodifi cationof
Dunc
an's socioeconomic
inde
x, which integrates informationabout the
adult
int
erv
i
ewe
d-a
pp
liancesand the total
num
ber ofli
ght
bulbs fo
un
din thehousehold
(
c.
Ga
rda
, J
anu
ary1999, personal co
mm
unication).This stu
dy
distinguishedthree levelswith the foll
ow
ing r
epre
sentation inthesam ple: 57.9%low/middle -low,35.3%middle,
and
6.9%middle-hig
h/
high. Thereisnoco
mp
arableestimateofthe nationwide Costa Rican distribution of these strata;hence, validation ofthesep
ropo
rtions is notpossible.
II0Carlos Drews
Thequestio
nn
aireincluded questions ab
out
knowledge, att
itud
es, and practices withrespect to various topics related to wildlife. Sociologists, Emilio Vargasa
nd
Isabel Roman
and
p
er
sonnel fromUnimer Research Inte
rna
tionalreviewedthec
ontent
,form, andst
ruc
t
ure
of the questi
onn
aire.The
dra
ftingstage includedseveral trials andapilot study by theintervi
ewe
rswhowere to collect thefield
dat
a. Thefinalversionofthequestio
nna
ire was
app
liedth
rou
ghpersonal inte
rviews
withadultsofthenationalsa
mp
leofh
ous
eholds.Mostof thequestionswereclosed.In
some
ofthequestions, cards
were
u
sed
tovi
sua
lizetheoptions availabletotheres
pond
ent.Forthep
urpo
ses ofthis study,wildlife
was
definedtotheres
pondent
s asanyanimal
that
usu
allylivesin theforest, rivers, lakes,orthesea:m
amm
als,birds,reptiles, amphibians,fishes,andinverte
bra
tes. The res
pondent
wasaskedto say whichspeciesfrom alistofdomestica
nd
wildanimalswere keptcurrently or
pr
eviously at home. The domestic speciesreadout bytheir vernacular names were dog, chicken,cat,cattle,
bud
gerigar or cockatiel,horse, pig,c
anar
y,rabbit, duck, goose,
turk
ey,hamster or guinea-pig, goat,
ph
easant,sheep,peacock,canarybird,and goldfish. Thewild species listed were macaw,par
rot
,toucan, greenparakeet, "ot
her
wild bird,"snake,igu
ana
orctenos
aur
, raccoon,coat
imu
ndi
, agouti,white-facecapuchin m
onk
ey, spider
monk
ey,howlerm
onk
ey,
squirr
elmonkey,felids,deer,turtles in a
quarium
,tortoises,fishes ot
her
than
goldf
ish, frogsor toads in te
rrarium
or
aqua
r
ium
,and
"oth
erwildspecies".Color
plat
es with CostaRicanspeciesof psittacids
and
felidsweres
how
n tore
spondent
sforspecieslevel i
den
tification if anyofthesewereke
pt
athome.In
additi
on,respo
nde
ntswereasked toname the species of the
other
wild bird,thefishes, and theot
her
wild specieskept. Per
sonn
el from
Unim
erResearchInt
ernat
ional collected the
dat
ain thefield,
prepar
edthedigital
dat
abase,
and
performed some of the analyses
und
erthesupervi
sion
oftheaut
hor
. Before
depart
ingtothefieldforthepilot
stud
y,the16 interviewersand5gr
oup
su
perv
isorsallocated tothisprojectu
nder
wentatraining s
ess
ion led bythe author a
nd
Unimer's
pro
ject manag
er
.Te
ams
c
ompos
edof fourinterviewersanda groupsupervisorvisited house holds inthe locationspredet
erm
ined in thesample.Thisinvestigation was introduced tothepot
ent
ialrespo
nde
ntas
fl
••
ast
ud
y about therelationship betweenCosta Ricans and nature".In 5.7%ofcases,theinterviewwas refused
up-
front.Ei
ght
intervi
ews
(0.7%)were int
err
u
pte
d and,therefore, excluded
WildAnimalsand
Ot
he
rP
etsK
ept
in CostaRicanHouseholdsI I I

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