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

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


  1. Gabriel Berki says:

    God Bless Joe Taft

  2. Nathan Gonzalez says:

    That cougar seemed obese

  3. Daniel Lye says:

    Whoever thinks shooting animals is fun is a complete psychopath that should be banished from existence

  4. T says:

    Is there anyone who knows the following video's animal local name ?
    this is a funny animal waste video

  5. FierrO SantoS says:

    Human scum so ugly ….animals beautiful…

  6. Your Tutor says:

    look at that ohio cougar, it is so friendly it amazing. shes afaraid, resists but does not harm the handler

  7. ꕤ . ᥴhaebae says:

    This is so sad to watch 🙁 Why do people do this to animals

  8. ꕤ . ᥴhaebae says:

    Some animals are meant to be in the wild not in cages,This is animal abuse

  9. Heck says:

    “You want a feline?, get ya a house cat.”

  10. Shae Shae says:

    When I see people treat animals like this I turn into Dexter.

  11. African bantu young King says:

    this is the most abusive

  12. bill ventra says:

    Yo fuck them

  13. Julia Deak says:

    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.

  14. thatonedude But who? says:

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

  15. Moon Gacha says:

    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

  16. Terri Rickert says:

    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.

  17. Aaler says:

    these poor cats

  18. Terri Rickert says:

    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.

  19. Terri Rickert says:

    Well done a wonderful AMAZING Video. Thanks for uploading.

  20. Lonnie Nelson says:

    I'd rather be hunting the people that hunt this BUTIFULL animals for mount fuck that shit cowards

  21. Just Try says:

    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

  22. CravingClassics says:

    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.

  23. Spiritual Rhome says:

    Humans are selfish fucking sickos!

  24. colette s says:

    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.

  25. Brett_Kendrick says:

    They couldn't have used tranqs for the cats that got let loose?

  26. Brett_Kendrick says:

    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

  27. Goat says:

    I happy with my newts…

  28. Bundi Lian says:

    Thats a typical Example of american stupidity

  29. Fire Hazzard says:

    Thumbnail looked like a dinosaur.

  30. Lisa’s Chi Chi Chan says:


  31. Hope James says:

    This is why I HATE Mankind

  32. BAVO says:

    At least on hunting ranches they roam free until they are murdered by big oil and pharm executives. Assholes. Bow is the only respectful kill.

  33. Sister Karo says:


  34. bouyant says:


  35. Marble_ kay says:

    Keep in mind that the nature of the animal isnt always the problem, rather the nature of the people around them too

  36. Kaycee Whitham says:

    Hahaha imagine if that puma had her claws! That dude would be fucked up! How insane!

  37. Independentsoul says:

    This is so sad

  38. liberal slayer says:

    I'm a hunter but what these guys in Texas are doing is ignorant!!! That's not hunting!! Shooting exotic animals in a fenced in area should be a crime!! Idiots like this is why we get shit on!!

  39. Ankit Pant says:

    Imagine spending your life in 2X2 cell even when you literally did nothing wrong, even dogs know when they did something wrong….what about these animals im sure they think wtf did I do!

  40. Lovely Amarillo says:

    9:33 is the dumbest shit i've heard in a while

  41. MichSignMan says:

    Mind your own business all you do-gooders…

  42. Briana Kocian says:

    Own a gator and don't care rescued my female and the most experience person for her I know what she is but it's the thrill and passion for them

  43. 109367 says:

    God that cougar situation got pretty out of hand, that was scary

  44. Dusty Forgotten says:

    Oh yeah… Not surprised John here owned a leopard.

  45. Francez Cito says:

    Aye much respect how they used that Ketamine and got the cat properly situated in the back of the vehicle. #Respect

  46. Andrew Sand says:


  47. Powers Glove says:

    Freaky bastards

  48. Core Cube says:

    I want to be a cheetah high as fuck off ketamine instead of living this shitty life

  49. K H says:

    Great video but why did VICE use a shot of a ball python when talking about rare animals? It's a ball python. It's harmless and one of the most popular snakes to keep in the world.

  50. D90Girl says:

    So how many exotic pets kill people and other pets, wildlife, farm animals etc, etc on a weekly basis ……COMPARED TO PITBULLS !?
    I rather live next to somebody who has Tigers than this vile breed of dogs.
    How about restricting and banning them !

  51. Bobby & Louise Papillons says:


  52. Daniel Harlan says:

    The owners of these animals should be summarily executed

  53. M Goodness says:

    I wasn't sure when this was made until I heard him say th US President has made it a point in his administration….so I went and looked to prove what I ALREADY knew….OBAMAS administration, NOT Trump

  54. King says:

    Oh My God😩😢😡

  55. Jonathan Burns says:

    Here because of the thumb nail

  56. TooManyHungryCats! says:

    0:26 my face when people impulse buy animals

  57. Akram Majidov says:

    Allah sizi ve buna a gulani ve chekeni oldursun

  58. Derrick Wade says:

    Tigers should free

  59. SwissPL says:

    what a sick trade!

  60. Bob Smith says:

    Can you imagine a world without elephants and tigers? These assholes are helping us to get there.

  61. Delia D says:

    5:02 What an asshole.

  62. Rochelle Pratt says:

    this is so sad they are wild and need more space to run and be free !!!

  63. Patrick Lorenzo says:

    That Black Leopard at 3:52
    Bruh! That's extremely rare

  64. Rodrigo Gordon says:

    Did they just destroy all those ivory statues and tusks? What a waste…

  65. Chris Blaisdell says:

    Anybody who traffics or poaches exotic wild animals should be brutally raped and murdered and put on display for all Society to see

  66. TheManFromTheMoon says:

    The real question is, How is that Aerostar Van still running?!

  67. Maxwell Vindman says:


  68. Michael Hartman says:

    The cats in zanesville could of been tranqed. Really wasn't right jus shooting them. They jus wanted it handled asap

  69. mike askme says:

    When you respect nature you respect humanity, when you cant respect nature there is no way you can respect humanity.

  70. Animal life with others Animal life with others says:

    Bruh keeping cats into cages and dog Is just abuse killing animals in horrible ways

  71. Oliver the cat says:

    did they just give a cougar fucking ketamine?!

  72. Matt says:

    Of all the crazy shit here its the 25$ price tag of a tiger that blew my mind, a kid saving a week or two of chore money could either eat at a decent resteraunt or…. Buy a fucking tiger! Capitalism leads to some weird shit.

  73. Cadenceross says:

    This is fucking sad, theses animals don’t belong in cages there ment to be out in the wild reasons why they act out when there in a cage like how would you act if u got trapped it a cage and your being beaten every fucking day, yeah think about that.

  74. GORGEOUS P.WET.E says:

    feeling alright joe?look like ya might drop

  75. suzy klitgaard says:

    Fun fact :
    Ketamine is also used by body builders.
    Football players.

    Then cougars.

    For sedation purposes😖🤔

  76. Ryan O'Malley says:

    “There are more big cats in private hands then in the wild, now”. How disturbing is that slice? Aaaaand, go.

  77. Dan O says:

    Fuck that !!!

  78. KHOA LUONG says:

    That’s just sad that the cows had to be there food

  79. Seth Wolfe says:

    Holy shit I had no idea that it was like this. If this is the truth. I don't know I'm just looking at what I'm seeing and if it is like this I am completely alarmed. But the way the narrator described it people buying and trading because of their egos I can completely see that's fitting because of the nasty side of human nature. And people doing it for a profit whether it's legal or not is so freaking rotten

  80. Itistabaccobro says:

    1:46 that guy a retard.. automatic guns are not primarily the only gun that's sold in the black market.. I'm tired of how media trys to portray automatic gun as being the worst or only used by criminals. Plus this guy looks like he don't know his ass hole from his elbow

  81. Itistabaccobro says:

    Thanks to that dick in Ohio 🖕. Hope some one decapitate his ass

  82. Kiah Bench says:

    When you worried about a mountain lion attacking its owner so you give it ketamine lmao

  83. HIP HOP says:

    If you shoot an Animal just for fun you should be shoot just for fun 👋 Fucking small dick fggts

  84. Miyu Miyu says:

    It's a being, it's a life. Now look at this: 0:42 This animal's behavior clearly shows its suffering from stress.
    Just because it looks clean and well fed it doesn't mean its state of mind is properly being looked out for.
    Why would you want a Tiger? Or a Bear? Maybe you want a Rhino, some hippos to add to the attraction. Fuck those people and fuck rich people for starting this shit.

  85. Night says:

    Fuck this shit haha

  86. PlaZma says:

    Montana there are a hanful of people with pet bobcats… Wealth doesnt have anything to do with that either, so do bobcats not classify as exotic? or Coyotes or wolves?

  87. sfat fuxia says:

    Asshole people man…

  88. jj tt says:

    Danm they shot the shit out of that panther lol

  89. krissy says:

    Its heartbreaking what poachers do to animals for there ivory!
    All these exotic animals in captivity is so cruel, when u see them in there habitat there amazing and breath taking and the journeys they go on every year just to find water!
    Its a same so many exotic animals are becoming extinct!

  90. Allison Aldridge-Saur says:

    Ball pythons are exotic but there not endangered or dangerous.

  91. Medeiros Rui says:

    Cowards cowards cowards. Fuck ppl

  92. swgeezer says:

    I love how fat that puma is

  93. swgeezer says:

    exotic pet owners are fucked

  94. Cheetaspot Aj says:

    This is TERRIBLE

  95. Roberta Machado says:

    Our species is disgusting! How can we do this? Its absurd!

  96. Adrian Beltran says:

    12:23 I almost shit my pants

  97. istyleyou says:

    30 seconds in *lights blunt damn

  98. Brianna Imming says:


  99. Caitlin White says:

    "I am prepared to make a 20 year commitment to an animal I know can kill me and I know will eat me out of house and home." This guy clearly never owned horses.

  100. Emma Wastson says:

    These cats are amazingly beautiful and gorgeous, but they are only like that when you see them in the wild happy and healthy, when they are kept in cages it’s just sad

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