Thursday, 14 July 2011

The exotic pet trade basics

The practice of importing and exporting wild animals as pets has been happening for decades, and often, popular entertainment determine which wild animals are the pets du jour. For example, exotic turtles grew in popularity in the 1980s "thanks" (for lack of a better word) to the popular television show, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Everything from the smallest reptile to a full-grown tiger can be sold to anyone for the right price. However, most owners don't realise the huge responsibility they are inheriting when they purchase exotic pets, and there's rarely a happy ending for the animal.
Just how does the exotic pet trade work, and what happens to these animals when the novelty wears off?

According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, following closely behind the profits of drugs and weapons on the black market. It's a  billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines. Countless animals are forced into the exotic pet trade every year for the purpose of becoming someone's pet or entertaining the masses in a circus or roadside zoo. 

While some wild pets have been bred in captivity, many exotic animals are plucked directly from their native habitats. The stress of being violently removed from their homes causes some animals to die before they ever reach a private residence. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that infant animals are the "most desirable" and earn dealers the largest profits. Poachers will often kill the protective mother first so that it's easier to capture the young.

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