Exotic Animal Import a Risky Business

By on December 5, 2007 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Exotic pets may be beautiful, but the trade that gets them here is far from benign. Hundreds of thousands of wild animals—squirrels and rats from Africa and Asia, small carnivores from South America, birds, reptiles and amphibians from around the globe, and fish from coral reefs—are imported into the United States every year for sale as exotic pets.

New research from the Centers for Disease Control says animals imported for the commercial trade represent a substantial risk to public health. Monkey pox and avian influenza are just two diseases linked to the exotic pet trade over the past few years. To reduce the public health risk, the CDC is now considering how to regulate the import of exotic animals for the pet trade.

Coatimundi baby on a branch

© iStockphoto
The coatimundi is one of many animals captured and imported
for the exotic pet trade

The U.S. government should ban the importation of exotic animals for the pet trade. Not only will this reduce the risk of disease from this source to zero, but it will also save the lives of millions of animals and prevent an extraordinary amount of suffering.

The exotic animals who survive the journey into the United States for the pet trade are just a small percentage of the animals affected by the drive to sell pets for export. Millions more are removed from the wild every year to supply the U.S. exotic pet market. Most of these creatures die along the way because of the way they are captured, held, and transported. The animals are handled roughly, crowded into small cages, left without food or water, and exposed to the elements. Addressing the trade within our borders will help stop this cruelty.

The HSUS is working in the states and in the Congress to turn this idea into policy. We hope the House and Senate will take action on the Captive Primate Safety Act to ban the interstate trade in primates for the pet trade. Please contact your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and urge them to cosponsor this legislation.

Exotic animals belong in the wild, not in our homes.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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