Exotic pet trade - wild animals as objects

Monkeys, skunks, crocodiles, hedgehogs, and porcupines. All animals you may expect to see on a wildlife programme – but in someone’s home? These are just some of the many different species traded in the UK as ‘exotic pets’.

A life of deprivation

Animals such as monkeys, meerkats, reptiles and parrots are wild animals who belong in their natural habitat, not in a cage or tank in a front living room. The complex social, physical and behavioural needs of a monkey cannot be met in a parrot cage. Those of a terrapin cannot be met in a glass tank.

Meerkats are often kept alone in small cages in the pet trade. What a miserable life for an animal who would live in a huge group with his family in the wild.

Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking sights is to see a bird locked up in a cage, denied a chance to do something so natural to her - to fly.

Fish who would live in the vast oceans of our world on beautiful coral reefs, reduced to living in a glass box of water, forever on display.

Destroying wild populations

The exotic pet trade undermines valuable conservation efforts in native habitat countries. Some animals are still taken from the wild to fill pet shops. Whilst the demand remains, supply will rush to meet it. Examples of the devastating effect of the pet trade on wild species include the Barbary macaque and the Clownfish. In many native habitat countries, the keeping of the country’s own wildlife as pets is illegal.

Primates not playmates

All non-human primates like monkeys and lemurs are wild animals with complex needs which simply cannot be met in captivity and certainly not in someone’s home.

These animals suffer immensely when denied the opportunity to live in their natural homes, with their families. Damage caused to primates kept as pets is not just physical, but emotional and psychological. Sometimes that damage cannot be undone, even after years of rehabilitation.

Can you believe that right now, there are monkeys being held captive in people’s homes? Estimates suggest that there may be around 9,000 non-human primates kept privately in the UK.

Joey the monkey was taken from the wild. He spent 9 years living in a cage in a flat in London. Thankfully he was rescued and went to live out his days at the Wild Futures' Monkey Sanctuary

What is Freedom for Animals doing?

We are raising awareness about the exotic pet trade through social media, our website and in the press.

We are part of a coalition of animal welfare groups actively lobbying Government for the primate pet trade to be banned.

We are providing resources to educate on the cruelty of the trade.

Read more about the exotic pet trade in our report 'Exotic animals are not pets'