I am pro ownership of Exotic Cats, and reading through this thread I am somewhat appalled at some things, but will give credit to other things. Some statments are so far from the truth, yet the very same statments are passed along as propoganda.
The National Geographic show mentioned within this thread is a heavily biased show, however a valiant effort on the part of Pro ownership groups, national geographic did throw in a small blurb about the other side of the story.
If I were a writer this would be a few pages long, however following the KISS principle:
Here are just a few links to sites that, while being pro ownership, are generally very unbiased in presenting fact rather than hype. I encourage everyone to visit these sites, and to delve into the information presented within.http://www.phoenixexotics.org/http://www.lioc.us/http://www.acef.org/http://www.oaao.org/http://www.lioc.org/
Those are a few really good ones regarding ownership and legalities, and why Exotic Ownership IS a good thing. [Why is it a good thing?...check out the sites and you will get an idea]
Before I go any further, I would also like to mention that I have documented experience working with and around the various species, and have also worked with veterinarians that limit their practice to these animals, I surely don't know everything, however understand that I am not just making this stuff up either.
These animals, while wild in origin and in nature, can and do make good pets. Each individual species has very different needs and behaviors, surely they are not a simple domestic cat (no insult intended, domestics are just simple compared to exotics).
The survival of these animals is dependant on human intervention, for the most part there isn't a single feline species that is thriving in their wild habitat. Captive breeding is the only time proven solution to ensuring the survival of the various species. Sadly though, funding and the number of qualified facilities have drastically dropped in the past few years, the plans that were in place/still being formulated to protect these species on a strictly commercial basis are failing. Protecting these species in their natural habitat has proven overly demanding, even in situ conservation efforts rarely turn out as planned. So where does that leave the Amur Leopard, the South Chinese Tiger, the Asian Lion, or the Florida Panther? Only one answer, extinct.
Now does that mean I'm reccomending that everyone go out and donate thousands to the WWF, or that everyone go buy a tiger or a cougar and breed them? ABSOLUTELY NOT. However, what I am trying to say is that there is a purpose for private ownership, more than one but that's a different discussion. The key is Responsibility.
You don't need a doctorate in zoology to keep these animals, however you do need space, time, money, love and most importantly Experience.
If you are interested in owning an exotic species, if you want to know more about how private ownership greatly benefits these animals, or even if you are totally against Private ownership and want to understand us better. Check out the sites I listed above. Also, I heavily suggest that everyone who really cares, for you to look around in your area and find a place that has these animals. If at all possible volunteer there and truely get an idea of what the truth is.
If nothing else I have said in this babbling leaves any impact, I hope this last statment will.
Before condoning something, or setting out to pass laws and remove civil rights, make sure you understand both sides and make sure you understand the potential consequences of your actions; the consequences of your actions to the animals that banning is supposed to "benefit."