Huffington Post, Barbara Fenig
With 50 percent of the world’s primates and turtles facing extinction and a booming illegal pet trade, endangered species are threatened daily due to the popularity of the exotic pet market. Check out our slideshow of 11 threatened pets that one should never purchase.
Protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, kinkajou not only face deforestation and human disturbance threats in their native habitats, which stretch from Mexico to Bolivia, but also are sought after as part of the endangered species pet trade. Paris Hilton owned Baby Luv, her pet kinkajou, which bit her on the arm during a party at the Fratto House in Beverley Hills (pictured).
Titi monkeys are also victims of the illegal endangered species trade. This past month, one man was arrested as he tried to smuggle in 18 Titi monkeys through customs into Mexico from Peru. Purchased in bulk for $30, the man hid the monkeys, which were tied up in pouches, in a belt beneath his shirt. By the time that customs officials detained the smuggler, two of the monkeys had already passed. These protected endangered species require a permit for ownership.Watch the video about this tragedy.
Endemic to Madagascar, lemurs are highly desired amongst the illegal pet trade circuit. With over 99 identified species, these wide eyed primates already suffer from Madagascar’s high deforestation rates yet must also face poachers from the exotic pet trade.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, seahorses are often purchased as exotic aquarium pets. This year, hundreds of thousands of seahorses were caught for the burgeoning trade. Seahorse populations are also dried for medicinal purposes. In 2000, an estimated 24.5 million dried seahorses were traded.
Cercopithecus diana monkeys are a vulnerable endangered species can only befound wild in the forests of Upper Guinea, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The monkeys are coveted on the illegal pet trade market. Pictured is Cookie who was owned by a Brooklyn family before taking residence at the Detroit Zoo’s animal rescue center. A custody battle ensued over the welfare of the endangered monkey before the state won permission to send Cookie to Detroit.
Great Green Macaws, Ara ambigua, are popular pets and also highly endangered. You may have even seen one caged in a hotel lobby in the Caribbean. Populations of the birds have dwindled to 2,500 mature birds. Due to the presence of banana plantations, cattle-ranching and logging, the birds’ native habitats are threatened by the impact of human changes to their naturaldeciduous forest environment. These rare birds are native to Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Nicaragua.
These highly endangered apes dwell in the forests of Southeast Asia. During capture for illegal pet trade, the mothers are often murderered by hunters as infant white handed gibbons require a year to bond with their mothers before willing separation.
The Eurasian Vulture is critically endangered and is a protected species in its native Croatia. At a pet shop in Baghdad, Iraq, one bird sells for $650 (pictured).
Priced at $350 online, these adorable miniature marsupials have experienced waves of pet popularity, especially in Taiwan.
Chinese box turtles are targeted as exotic pets and hunted for their meat. The turtles can live to be 50-years-old and are thus pets that require decades worth of care. The turtles get their name as they weigh only 15 grams (.03 pounds) at birth and 800 grams (less than two pounds) by adulthood making them smaller than a matchbook.
With an estimated 133 White Bengal Tigers left in the world, it is truly a crime to own these cats as pets. Mike Tyson owned two female white bengals namedKenya and Storm for seven years at his home in Texas and attempted to gain a license for ownership. However, after Tyson filed for bankruptcy the tigers were moved to a wildlife refuge in Colorado. Tyson also owned a golden tabby male tiger called Boris, which was also moved to the refuge.