An Inside Look at the Exotic Animal Trade: Profiles by VICE


Most of the people that say “I want to buy a tiger” are what you can classify as impulse buyers, people who say, “If I raise it from a cub, it won’t bite me, will it?” I can house break it if it grows up in
my house it will never eat my children If you’re a bad guy and you want to make
money and have a much lower chance of getting caught, the wildlife trade is
perfect because you know what’s the likelihood that some municipal police
officers going to know that the critter you have in your bag or that you have in
your car is a legal lizard or the world’s most endangered lizard even if they are apprehended you don’t
see people going away for decades for selling endangered species if you’re selling drugs you may go away
for decades. Wildlife trafficking worldwide is estimated to be a 19
billion dollar a year business which puts it only underneath drug trafficking
human trafficking and arms smuggling it’s as lucrative to deal in wildlife as it
is to deal in heroin cocaine or automatic weapons the president of the united states has made it a
priority in his administration to look at wildlife trafficking one, we need to
save these species and two, it’s become a national security issue and it’s a
worldwide issue that needs to be solved by many countries throughout the world to disrupt these criminal networks that
are profiting in pretty much the death of a lot of these iconic species in the wildlife trade the types of
people you run into are people just doing it for profit and if that means wiping out the species, they’ll move on to something else then there’s the people that do it
because of ego it’s almost like the macho factor, can I
get the most dangerous the most venomous the hottest snake that’s out there
sometimes they just want to be able to say look I have this extremely rare
animal that there’s only X number left in the world and I have one sitting here
in my living room there’s a lot of exotic species that are
held in the pet trade here in the united states some states make it illegal some states don’t have regulations at
all in regards to exotics or animals that aren’t native to the state Can be tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, sometimes individuals will own chimpanzees it’s up to the states to regulate them
within the states A lot of these animals are incredibly
friendly but that doesn’t mean they’re safe these animals will kill you because they
like you “Hi, let’s play” “oh, you broke” If you go in the cage with
one of these animals you are at risk If you stick your hands in the cages
with these animals, you are at risk if you’re not in the cage and the cage is
secure you’re safe Hi, Parker My name is Joe Taft and I am the founder
and director of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center the Exotic Feline Rescue Center houses
about 225 big cats including 140 tigers We take cats from
around the United States to the best of my knowledge we are the second largest
collection of big cats in the country we don’t buy them, sell them, or breed
them. We’re strictly a rescue operation These animals are bred in this country
in captivity and they have been for many many generations and they proliferated
through private hands and went to people who had no idea or no ability to provide
them care you know we don’t have many people who
say I am prepared to make a 20 year commitment to an animal that I know can
kill me and I know will eat me out of house and home we feed between three and four thousand
pounds of meat here every day and as we’re putting that meat out, we’ll pick up
between 800 and 1,000 pounds of bone out of the cages. Cubs are cute and
cuddly but they are something that you need to plan on caring for for a long
time This animal belonged to a retired circus
trainer and when he retired he walked an elephant into the barn and chained it to
the floor and pulled nine big cats into the barn and that’s where they stayed in
circus wheel cages for 10 years Hi, Hi she lived her whole life in
a cage that was 5 foot by 7 and despite the fact she’s got this big
habitat when she gets bored or stressed you see that little circle that she
paces that’s part of the psychological impact
on what’s happened to her We’re going to ohio where we’re going to
pick up a cougar it’s an eight year old spayed, declawed,
female we don’t know who the people are all we
have is an address and a phone call from the people that they want to give this
animal up Ohio had virtually no regulation about
the keeping of exotic animals until just recently not until after the incident in Zanesville
about two years ago there was somebody who had a large collection of
big cats for some reason this guy went out one night and turned all of his cats
loose and then committed suicide and all of those cats ended up being
killed because when you’ve got 60 lions and tigers running around at night unsecured that’s the only thing you can
do As a result of that situation there was
a political backlash in Ohio Ohio has passed a lot of laws so it’s going to be
interesting to see what we find today I don’t know what… this situation
is that we’re walking into right now it could be a sad case of he just can’t
follow what Ohio is making them do and it could be, could be that he wasn’t
doing what he needed to do anyways when When I started with big cats there were no regulations of any kind
involved from the point of view of the state it was no different than having a cocker
spaniel or a German Shepherd I just went to the local pet store said
hey I’ll take one of those I lived with the leopard for almost 19
years, she had the run of my house she slept in my bed all of her life and
most of the people who were involved in it were fairly serious about it and then cats
started being bred in puppy mills and sold on the Internet sold cheaply, we have some Tigers that
were sold at an auction for $25 a piece These auctions take place in
states where they don’t have a state law against the sale of endangered species
where they don’t have state laws against the… the buying and selling of exotic
species of species that aren’t found in that state and what typically then
happens is that state is then used as a loophole to launder illegal big cats or
illegal wildlife with legal and what a lot of people don’t understand is how
those species got into the United States how are those animals bred There is a large amount of people
here in the united states that feel like they want to have something that’s rare Her name is Zoe? tough time for you huh? It is, It is, this really sucks yeah all because of that guy in
Zanesville huh today we found a couple of people who
have taken very good care of an animal for a long time in a very secure cage now you have to understand a lot of this
is quite unusual for us you want to get her back in here? The owner
thought he was going to be able to pick the animal up in his arms and put
him in our cage, that didn’t work out well It was a dangerous situation that’s
the kind of situation I do not ever like to see if that would have been a wild
cougar than you’d have a lot of people that were either dead or in the hospital we got the animal back in her original
enclosure and then we had to immobilize her “That was scary” “Yup” “That was fucking scary” The drugs we’re using are ketamine and
dexmedetomidine “Quit shaking there Zoe” “oh, sorry I was just…” this will be better for her because once
she’s inside the cage having not really known anything else she’s likely to have a very difficult
time on the transport back this will keep her calm and in a more or
less sleepy state the whole way back She’s fighting it but she might go down “Nice shot, Dave” we did get her immobilized eventually “okie dokie” And then we moved her into our cage “Alright, just shove her in the best you can” OK “I don’t want you in that cage, she’s too awake” “Ok, Let’s get this gate down” Too many people get these animals
because it’s an ego thing because they want to say that they control a big cat
that they have a big cat for a pet and these animals get huge and I don’t care
how sweet they are that is a potential danger we pull cats
out of places that are neighborhoods there are kids and stuff nearby that’s a pretty scary thing I think she’s going to make this
transition really well now that she’s surrounded by tigers and leopards she’ll
be able to see the neighbors, herr neighbors will be able to see her and
that’s gotta be quite overwhelming for her, I mean, she could see three dogs
from where she was, three dogs and a cat this family also had a bear looked very
healthy very well-cared-for very clean they have done a good job with their
animals and they live someplace where there were no laws regarding the keeping
of exotic animals I mean they weren’t criminals they weren’t
mean people, still, people that keep lions and tigers and other big dangerous
animals need to be under some kind of regulatory system. There are more big cats in private hands than there are
in the wild now, and you know at some point you’ve got to say to yourself what’s the quality of life here and if
you have one of these creatures you need to consider more than just the
pride of ownership it’s a being, it’s a life, you want a
feline get you a house cat

78 thoughts on “An Inside Look at the Exotic Animal Trade: Profiles by VICE

  • It's bad enough people do dumb things to animals at zoos & want to blame them for being animals, but to bring them home & think "training" will undo thousands of years of evolution?

  • Animalabuse white people want to own everything the jewich disease greed and everything that comes with it

  • id say theres at least 50% of these comments talking like theyll actually do soemthing. if 2000 people actually cared enough to help the issue, instead of commenting how fucked up it is, this problem wouldnt be as bad. before you complain about people not being nice, or being cruel.. ask yourself, wtf have you done to help this issue?

  • This is wrong these animals shouldn't be in cages like that. That's horrible for their mental health and physical

  • This is sickening. Animals are not OBJECTS, they have minds and brains and can feel PAIN to. This needs to be stopped.

  • Lots of peeps can't afford to feed these animals properly. It's SAD!
    GOD BLESS the rescue shelters. 🙏

  • JP Morgan just got busted shipping $1.3 billion worth of cocaine to the US… now we all know why the drug trade is #1 on the list most profitable businesses. It’s always been said “they’re” funding the “war on drugs” but this gives it a whole new meaning 🤦🏽‍♀️ it’s like we finally caught the tooth fairy 🧚‍♂️ and the Easter bunny 🐰

  • "It wont kill me if I raise it from a cub will it?" Lmao that's like asking if you won't get burned if you put your hand on a hot plate, because you have a thin glove on…give me a break…these types of people who dont get my sympathy if they get bitten or eaten. It's a wild animal…not a freaking house cat get real.

  • And I felt guilty for keeping my pet pig in captivity… yeesssshhh! What are people doing? Yes, when your a child or a teen, keeping some kind of strange animal is all the rage… because you believe that animal will somehow become your identity…. but when adults start buying animals that could kill children, or get out and destroy whole ecosystems, then something has gone terribly wrong.

  • 16:21 he sounds more like the dude with the ego “get you a house cat” lol as if they don’t have a life either

  • This is animal mistreatment, wild animals should be in the wild, not in a small cage. I’m glad to see people are trying to rescue them

  • Don't know what's wrong with white people at first they enslaved black peoples now animals these peoples really need mental health care

  • There's more people that love animals but want to kill other people where's the humanity y'all mahfuckas is assbackwards.

  • The people that own these animals are stupid. Putting their life and innocent peoples lives at risk scary 😔🤭

  • Idiots get the gun stuck in the fence! Lol!! HAHA .every state should have laws that do not allow any type of exotic animal in the possession of people at all what so ever

  • Why these so hungry for adventure guys don't go and fight in terrorists nations like Syria Afghanistan Pakistan

  • So sad people need to stop buying all these cat and let them live where they ce from poor cat was in a jail for his hole life so very sad they can go to the zoo they don't need to own them

  • Is there anyone who knows the following video's animal local name ?
    https://youtu.be/EsxOSrBx6H0
    this is a funny animal waste video

  • It makes me so mad that some people think it’s ok to own big cats like tigers and lions. THEY ARE NOT PETS OR STATUS SYMBOLS. Most people have no idea how to take care of them. Even if they do, no amount of love and attention given to these animals changes the fact that they would be much more at home in the wild. The extra few years these cats get from human care are just not a good enough reason to raise them in captivity (unless they are in a zoo where they are being used for educational purposes and are surrounded by educated zoologists and vets who know how to care for them). If you truly love big cats donate to an organization dedicated to protecting them from extinction in the wild.

  • I fucking hate people who declaw their cat or tiger or anything related to it . You're pretty much breaking the animals kneckles

  • Seeing how this world is I’m not surprised earth and wildlife is dying I’d rather live on the moon alone with animals then see animal abusers and killers again

  • I really don't understand why humans HAVE to OWN exotic (wildlife) of any species. It is so disgusting and selfish. Even Terri Irwin, who I no longer have any respect for (widow of the Croc Hunter – Steve Irwin) use to keep Cougars (plus other exotic animals) as "PETS" in Eugene Oregon. Finally learned once she moved to Australia that NO exotic animals should be kept as pets or at many many zoos. She now does speaking engagements trying to EDUCATE people to NEVER feed wildlife (this is so wrong for the animals & often is LETHAL) and NEVER have wildlife as "PETS".

    As at August 2019. In 20 US States, owning an exotic animal is totally illegal. Ohio now has banned Exotic animal ownership (one of the 20 States).

    Oct. 19, 2011  Zanesville, Ohio Private Owner of exotic "PETS" 56 exotic animals from their cages, essentially condemning them to death. Thompson's "pets" included 18 critically ENDANGERED Bengal tigers, 17 lions, 6 black bears, 3 grizzly bears, 3 leopards, 3 cougars, 3 monkeys, 2 wolves, and 1 baboon. 50 of the animals through no fault of their own met a gruesome death: 48 were gunned down by the local sheriff and deputies. 1 wolf was run over by a car on nearby I-70. 1 monkey reported to have Hepatitis B was eaten by 1 of the big cats. The remaining 6 animals: 3 leopards, 2 monkeys, and 1 grizzly were spared their lives, captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo.

    Owner was a convicted FELON. Had Mental Illnesses.
    Just released from federal prison only weeks before after serving a year for possessing illegal firearms. How the animals were cared for during his incarceration is unknown. He was convicted of animal cruelty charges in 2005 and had multiple confrontations with the law over cruelty speculations from neighbors. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture's can prosecute animal cruelty charges under the Animal Welfare Act, the agency is limited to monitoring exotic animal owners who either breed certain species for commercial sale, or those who exhibit the creatures to the public. Thompson's collection was private, not exhibited to the public. 

    This horrific episode highlights the many gaps in a patchwork of state and federal regulations governing the private ownership of exotic animals. Such laws vary from state to state, and federal laws don't address the possession of certain animals. Not surprisingly, there's an epidemic of private ownership of dangerous exotic animals in the United States. Globally, the exotic pet trade is a 20 billion dollar industry that contributes to the suffering, abuse, and death of millions of animals, often threatening public health and safety, disrupting ecosystems and driving species to endangerment and extinction. Each year, countless numbers of exotic animals are purchased as pets at retail stores, from private breeders and dealers at auctions to open public markets and online shopping then forced to suffer a lifetime of confinement in a squalid cage or pen that resembling nothing close to their native habitat. Since the vast majority of people who keep exotic animals as "pets" are not trained animal welfare professionals or zoologists and cannot meet their needs, the animals often become the victims of harrowing abuse and neglect — they are caged, chained, drugged, terrorized, beaten into submission and killed. Exotic animals should not be kept as pets for obvious reasons.

    The tragic loss in Zanesville, Ohio could have been prevented. Mr. & Mrs. Terry Thompson, supporters of the exotic animal trade industry, dismantlers of necessary govt. Terry releasing the 56 animals he KNEW they would have to be MURDERED (caused horrific stress to both the wildlife as well as the people who had to kill them) because he damaged the small cages so badly the couldn't be used.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO1XP4UHMAQ

  • The rescue/transfer of the cougar (carrying her would have stress her out so much it was a miracle she didn't have a heart attack. I HATE Ketamine it has a really high side effect of causing hallucinations.  Ketamine is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. It induces a TRANCE-LIKE state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss. Other uses include for chronic pain, sedation in intensive care, and depression.

    I have never used Dexmedetomidine – is notable for its ability to provide sedation without risk of respiratory depression (unlike other commonly used sedatives such as propofol, fentanyl, and midazolam) and can provide cooperative or semi-arousable sedation.

    How many hours was the trip each way? I know the old owner took good care of her & Exotic Feline Rescue will take good care of her. But the BIG cats don't have enough area, ponds to play in (I don't know if they provide daily enrichment).

    BUT EXOTIC animals NEED HUGE spaces to run & roam, a pond to play in, structures to climb on & hide in. They need. daily enrichment to keep them physically & emotional healthy.

    The bear is showing NEUROTIC pacing.

  • Why are you showing 1980 elephant videos …. does it help the ratings Vice ? Crazy – fake news on the elephant front ! Sad u would add the vhs tapings

  • A bunch of uneducated people fighting mental Illness without knowing they have it. There is no such thing as a pet. Stop using other living things to make yourself feel better.

  • this is sad. the huge bear living in a cage all alone was terrible. But big cats who pace in circles and have no where to run seems like cruelty. We have a very nice Zoo in my state. Very expansive enclosures and habitats. It seems like they out-breed their instinct to hunt by feeding them. They aren't wild animals anymore, but they should not be anywhere outside in the wild but in large Zoos.
    In my hometown we had a pathetic "zoo', it was two pens with a bear in one and a bobcat in the other. then a huge enclosure with 10 to 12 deer. When the bear and cat died that part was closed.
    Thank goodness! they still have the deer pen, which is pretty senseless.

  • What a surprise its the oil guys who are literally lighting the world on fire who come down and shoot these endangered exotic animals. They are sadistic fucks

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