A temporary booth set up in Orlando by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) started to look like a scene from The Jungle Book after the agency gave “amnesty” to people in possession of exotic animals banned under Florida law and agreed to take in the animals and place them in facilities equipped to care for them.
The point of the agency’s first Exotic Pet Amnesty Day wasn’t to cut illegal animal owners a break—it was to keep owners from simply turning reptiles, turtles, sugar gliders, and other exotic animals loose in the wild, where they would disrupt the local ecosystem and perish slowly and painfully.
Abandonment of exotic animals—who are usually purchased on impulse by unprepared and uninformed consumers—is just one of many serious problems associated with the exotic-pet industry. Many exotic animals are stolen out of their habitats in the wild, torn from their families, and shipped in cramped, filthy containers across the world before being warehoused in massive mills, awaiting their ultimate destination: pet stores, including pet-trade giants PETCO and PetSmart.
A PETA investigation into international animal dealer U.S. Global Exotics revealed that animals were crammed into pillowcases, shipping crates, troughs, and even plastic bottles, sometimes for weeks at a time. Many who were sick or dying were frozen to death in a freezer. Our investigation resulted in the largest animal seizure in history, the closure of the facility, and the issuing of an arrest warrant by the federal government for owner Jasen Shaw. But exotic animals are still suffering at the hands of other dealers like Rainbow World Exotics and Sun Pet Ltd., which supply PETCO and PetSmart stores across the country. Despite evidence of systemic cruelty and neglect at these small-animal factory farms, PETCO and PetSmart refused to sever ties with Rainbow and Sun Pet and continue to buy animals from them.
Good for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for preventing animals acquired on a whim from suffering uncertain fates in a concrete jungle far from their natural homes. To help do the same, click here to e-mail PETCO and PetSmart and demand that they stop selling animals.
Written by Michelle Sherrow