Born 2 B Wild

Exotic animals aren't meant to be pets

Real Life Story

A 10-year-old girl helping her stepfather groom a tiger died after the tiger clamped her head in its jaws. "No big cat can be tamed or trained to be a safe, trustworthy actor or companion," says an HSUS spokesperson. "No matter how long you've had the animal, or how well he's behaved in the past, every moment spent in direct contact with a lion or tiger brings with it the risk of injury or death for the human handler or owner." Almost 15,000 people keep lions, tigers, cougars and other big cats as pets.

The Numbers Don't Lie


  • There have been 75 deaths from exotic pet attacks in the last 20 years.
  • Between 5,000 and 7,000 tigers are pets, more than in the wild.
  • Almost 90% of reptiles carry salmonella disease and can transmit it to people.
  • 52 people have been injured and 14 dead from elephant attacks in zoos or circuses.
  • We have injured 2 bears and killed 6 from 1990 to 2000.
  • In the United States, we have injured 7 elephants and killed 11 in the last ten years.

Animals in Danger

It took thousands of years for wolves to evolve into dogs so there is thousands of years of difference between domestic animals and wild animals. Also we don’t know enough about them to meet the wild animal’s everyday needs. They often get depressed because they aren't meant to be pets.

People in Danger

Scientists say its likely one in three reptiles carry salmonella. The percentage of reptiles with salmonella is 77% to 90%. Wild animals can carry many more diseases like giardia, hepatitis A, rabies, ringworm, molloscum, and a lot more. And if the diseases don’t hurt us, most likely their bites and scratches will. Thousands of people get hurt by exotic pets every year.

Effects On The Environment

We can’t fulfill their needs and wild animals don’t naturally mate in captivity. When people realize they can’t meet the animals needs, they sometimes release them into the wild and they die or ruin the environment because they aren't in their real home.

The Law

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention oppose some exotic animals as pets. In some states you need a license to keep an exotic pet. Other states don’t have laws at all. When there are laws, pet stores adapt to avoid them. We need to make sure exotic animals stay in the wild and out of our homes even if there is no law against it.

What the experts say


  • “Buying or giving exotic pets such as monkeys, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, reptiles, or other wildlife potentially can be dangerous to both humans and the animals themselves.” — Veterinarian Jane Mahlow, Director of the Texas Department of Health Zoonosis Control Division
  • “People buy these large cats when they’re kittens and don’t have the foresight to see in four years that kitten is going to be 500 pounds, and instead of two bottles it is going to need 30 to 50 pounds of meat a day. They try to make a pet out of something that will never be a pet.” — Terry Mattive of T & D Mountain Range Menagerie, a sanctuary for unwanted, abused and exploited jungle cats in Penn Creek, PA
  • “Macaques [monkeys] are aggressive and are known to carry diseases, including herpes B, which can be fatal to humans. My opinion is primates make very poor pets.” — Dr. Michael Cranfield, veterinarian at the Baltimore Zoo and an expert on primates