Sometimes animals are so cute it’s hard to resist the temptation to pet them. But, of course, we know better, and we usually steer clear of touching or even approaching wild animals. However, there are instances when humans are encouraged to pet animals that shouldn’t be.

When people visit wild places, such as the sea or jungle, we often encounter wild animals. Many of us want these experiences. We often want to interact with these animals so much that we forget ourselves a bit and jump at opportunities to have artificial close encounters.

Unfortunately, many wild animals are forced into servitude so that “owners” can make money from them. Many wild animals are put in danger, as are the people petting them when encounters are artificially created. Even rescue sanctuaries and zoos fall into the trap of financially benefitting from “petting” practices.

Some animals, no matter how cute or safe it seems, should never be petted.

1. Bears

First of all, bears are large, dangerous animals that can cause humans serious harm if an encounter goes wrong. For that reason alone, we shouldn’t be petting them.

To add to the issue, often baby bears are removed from their parents, or older bears are beaten into submission to create “tame” animals. Bears are wild, period, and don’t wish to be touched by humans.

2. Dolphins

Source: Sky News/Youtube

The bad practices of Sea World and other such aquariums are well documented by now, and hopefully, they will soon not be around at all. The animals in these places aren’t actually meant to perform with trainers, and they are forced to do so, often worse.

Swimming with dolphins in the wild is often presented as a more respectful means of having interactions with dolphins. But, they are big, wild animals that can unpredictably hurt you. And, you can hurt them. Dolphins can become conditioned to swim too close to boats, and they can become diseased due to being touched.

3. Elephants

It may sound repetitive at this point, only three animals on our list, but… elephants are large, dangerous animals that can hurt humans and are meant to be touched or tamed by people.

“Sanctuaries” and zoos sometimes use interactions to raise money, but this is misguided. Elephants have no choice in these unnatural situations and exchanges.

Even in their native habitats, elephants used for rides and close encounters are often abused to make them suitable for this. Petting them supports the exploitation of these animals.

4. Kangaroos

Though they can sometimes be bought as pets and found in petting zoos, kangaroos absolutely do not like being confined, and they shouldn’t be cuddled by humans. In other words, they don’t belong in places where they can be petted.

Furthermore, adult kangaroos have strong legs, sharp claws, and powerful jaws, and they can be very protective of joeys and aggressive during mating season.

5. Seals/Sea Lions

They are cute, and we see them performing tricks in shows. They seem so playful and jovial. No surprise: They are wild animals that can cause serious damage to a person who invades their space. Plus, handling baby seals in the wild can result in parents abandoning them. They are best left alone.

6. Sea Turtles

Even in the wild, sea turtles seem docile and approachable. They glide effortlessly and don’t seem especially frightened by human presence. However, touching them can spread bacteria that could make them ill, change their feeding behavior, and disrupt mating rituals.

7. Service Dogs

Source: Molly Burke/Youtube

Many of us love dogs, and we love to pet them—even strangers—in order to demonstrate our affection. However, service dogs should not be touched or distracted. Whatever one’s feelings are about animals in servitude, dogs are used to help people, and it’s something we must respect. Petting service dogs is a no-no!

8. Sharks

Sharks shouldn’t be touched. They belong in the wild, not aquariums. Touch tanks are never good for sharks, never about the shark having a pleasant experience. These animals need vast oceans to socialize, forage, migrate, and so on.

Even when encountered in the wild, they can contract diseases from human contact, and they can develop bad habits when baited to attract them near to boats and divers/snorkelers. Many of them can be quite dangerous, too.

9. Sting Rays

See sharks. Sting rays are close relatives.

10. Tigers

Tigers are kept as pets. The cute little cubs are used as attractions for kids to cuddle. Tigers are even “tamed” and raised in tourist attractions: circuses, roadside zoos, and temples.

Tigers are large carnivores that are best avoided by humans. They are capable of killing us quickly and easily. It would be natural for them.

Any tiger that has been tamed, or seemingly so, has been abused. Any cub that is featured for petting has been taken from its mother.

As animal lovers, we shouldn’t participate in this stuff. Nothing can be further from our intentions to show our affection for these animals. Petting them is the exact opposite of that, a genuine sign of disrespect, putting our desires above the animals’ wellbeing.

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