Private Ownership and Commercial Exploitation of Protected Species 

Private Ownership and Commercial Exploitation of Protected Species


Protected species are still bred and kept in conditions that do not respect their specific needs. Endangered animals are killed for dubious reasons. The suffering endured by wild animals kept under human influence stems from ignorance and disregard of their needs and behaviour. Wild animals displayed in circuses and for other entertainment purposes spend most of their lives in tiny cages. 

In some cases, private owners keep wild animals as pets in conditions not suited to their species. Likewise, substandard and illegal zoos house wild animals in very poor conditions. Even killing wildlife can be a lucrative activity, such as in so-called ‘canned hunting’ where lions are bred to become hunting trophies. Also, parts and substances from protected species are processed into products for use in traditional medicine – like bear bile and tiger bone wine. Often, there is a very fine border between legal and illegal commercial activities involving wild animals. Traffickers exploit loopholes in legislation, as well as the lack of enforcement, to carry out their activities.

From urging for amendments to international frameworks such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as well as to EU and national legislation, to working towards the more effective enforcement of laws and regulations, the FOUR PAWS European Policy Office is lobbying to improve the situation of wild animals. In particular, the EPO has called for a total ban on the commercial trade of tigers in the EU, and aims to bring canned lion hunting to an end.

What you can do:

  • Support FOUR PAWS campaigns:
  • Sign the petition to ban the tiger trade in the EU:
  • Do not visit circuses that put wild animals on show.
  • When on holiday, do not visit wild animal parks unless you are informed that the animals are well treated and their basic needs respected (in wild animal sanctuaries, for example).
  • Report any dubious activity involving wild animals.
  • Follow our stories => Our Stories webpage.