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The devastating effects of illegal pet trade

by Brianna Bush - Executive Editor
Wed, Oct 9th 2019 02:00 pm
Around the world, animals are being relocated from the natural wild, auctioned off into a life of containment. These animals are part of the illegal pet/ exotic trade. Many of the animals involved include bears, tarsiers, birds, alligators, anacondas, other `big` and exotic animals.
Around the world, animals are being relocated from the natural wild, auctioned off into a life of containment. These animals are part of the illegal pet/ exotic trade. Many of the animals involved include bears, tarsiers, birds, alligators, anacondas, other "big" and exotic animals.

Animals across the world are being ripped from their natural habitats to be placed in the homes of people who can buy anything they want. People think it’s acceptable to have animals like bears, alligators, tigers, monkeys and big snakes when they are small babies, but as soon as they start to grow into their full size, the owners recognize their mistakes.

The illegal pet trade does not just involve larger animals, it includes smaller animals like frogs and birds. These animals are smuggled across borders in bottles, luggage, purses, backpacks and other small portable carriers.

The animals in transit are usually mistreated and many have died in the midst of being transported. According to peta.org, “parrots might have their beaks and feet taped and be stuffed into plastic tubes that can easily be hidden in luggage, and stolen bird and reptile eggs are concealed in special vests so that couriers can bypass X-ray machines at airports.”

In the 1970s National Geographic reported deaths of 12 million birds that had acquired a disease while being smuggled and later died when placed in a home. The animals being smuggled, bring over foreign diseases that other pets and humans can contract, and in some cases lead to their deaths.

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) at animalplanet.com, “the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, second only to drugs and weapons on the black market. It’s a $15 billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines.”

It seems intense when you compare drugs, weapons and pets — as if they do not belong on the same level of criminal activity. Unfortunately the trade is in demand by people that use the animals to show off thier wealth, because many of these “pets” are just to look at; especially the larger ones.

People purchase tigers, alligators, anacondas and large boa constrictors because at first they are little animals, but as they grow they become too much to handle and owners either relinquish their “pets” or let them loose in an unnatural habit. The animals are eventually captured and returned to their natural habitats, turned over to rescue centers or in many cases killed when found. 

Some organizations like PETA argue that having anything other than a cat or a dog, is considered having an exotic pet. On the other hand there are people who argue against that, saying as long as you get it from a certified breeder and through legal methods that it is okay.

Many people ask where others get their exotic pets, many will answer with pet stores or pet shows, but there are many who have gotten their pet through illegal trade like poaching and smuggling.

The poaching and smuggling is also devastating animal populations across the world. Because of the demand for exotic pets poachers are setting traps and actively seek out the animals that are in demand in the market.

According to animalplanet.com, “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.”

Taking the animals away from their natural habitat affects the environment around them — if you take away the prey, what is the predator left to eat? And vice versa. Taking away a predator that is necessary to an ecosystem can destroy the balance that we rely on. There is also the fact that these poachers are killing the mothers and in some cases the sick babies.

People need to put an end to the illegal pet/exotic trade, if not for the ecosystems of the individual animal but for the planet in general. In order to have these animals remain on earth we have to sustain their lives and sustain their ecosystems.

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