Each year across the nation, countless numbers of exotic animals
are purchased as pets. Sugar gliders, hedgehogs and prairie dogs are
just a few of the exotic species recently gaining popularity in pet
stores. Others, such as non-human primates, tigers and even bears are
readily obtainable from private breeders and dealers who advertise to
buyers via magazines and over the Internet. Wherever they come from, the
global commercialization of exotic animals is a multi-billion dollar
industry that often results in animal cruelty, health risks and serious
What is the exotic pet trade?
The exotic pet trade is the trade and keeping of wild animals as
pets, essentially contributing to the suffering of millions of animals,
threatening public health and safety, disrupting ecosystems and driving
species to endangerment and extinction. Most exotic pets end up in the
hands of private individuals, where they suffer from inappropriate
housing and care and poor nutrition.
Many exotic animals arrive in the United States illegally.
Illegal trafficking in exotic animals is a global business, worth close
to $20 billion each year. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, the profit made from illegal trade in wildlife ranks second
only to the trade of illegal drugs in the United States.
Where do exotic animals come from?
Hundreds of millions of animals enter the exotic pet trade every
year. Some are captured from their native lands. Others bred in private
kennels. Even more are surplus from roadside menageries, zoos and
Exotics are taken from the wild
To meet the demand for exotic pets, thousands of animals are
taken from their native lands each year, perpetuating the decline of
many species and disrupting delicate ecosystems. The animals often
endure horrific transport conditions before being sold—many die along
Exotics are bred in captivity
While it is common for exotics to be taken from native
habitats, others are mass-bred in captivity—but life for these animals
is no easier. Similar to puppy mills, conditions at exotic breeding
facilities are often very dismal and the breeder animals are often
forced to live in less-than-sanitary conditions. Breeders also often
remove newborns from their mothers within hours or days of birth so that
they can be hand-raised. Such traumatic separations leave both mother
and infant emotionally scarred.
Exotic animals are surplus animals
Due to rampant over-breeding in certain zoos, circuses and
other public animal attractions, there is often a surplus of
captive-bred exotic animals entering the market. Furthermore, when baby
animals reach adulthood, they are typically traded out to make room for a
new batch of younger animals. Surplus animals may travel from buyer to
buyer before finally ending up in another roadside menagerie, zoo or
private home, or as the target in a canned hunt. Canned hunting is the
practice of hunting exotic animals in a confined area. Hunters typically
pay a high price to shoot and kill a rare animal, often at close range,
for a surefire trophy. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000
canned hunting operations across the nation.
What is the environmental impact of the exotic pet trade?
Many of the animals in the exotic pet trade are taken out of
environmentally sensitive areas such as the rainforest or African
plains. The loss of animals from the wild is perilous, since ecosystems
rely largely on animal carriers to spread plant seeds through their fur
and dung. Furthermore, animal prey and predators rely on each other to
keep populations in balance.
It is also the capture of baby animals that is the most
lucrative, and often the mother is killed in order to take her young,
further increasing the extinction rate of many already endangered
How are most exotic animals sold to the public?
Exotic animals are sold to the highest bidder at dozens of
auctions held across the United States, but the Internet has emerged as
the leading place for people to buy these animals. Unfortunately,
Internet trafficking of live animals is on the rise. With little more
than a credit card, people can log on to one of dozens of websites and
easily purchase a tiger, baboon or baby giraffe, and have a new pet
To read more: http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/exotic-pet-faq.aspx