Study details problems at wholesaler of exotic pets

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​A new study details problems at a former wholesaler of exotic companion animals, U.S. Global Exotics in Texas, that appear to be reflective of problems in the wholesale industry.

“Morbidity and Mortality of Invertebrates, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Mammals at a Major Exotic Companion Animal Wholesaler” appeared online May 29 in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals conducted a seven-month undercover investigation of U.S. Global Exotics. Then a team of veterinarians, biologists, and others under the auspices of Texas state authorities conducted an investigation of the dealer during December 2009 and January 2010. A subsequent court hearing determined that all the animals had been treated cruelly, and the Texas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other animal welfare organizations were awarded custody.

The formal investigation found that U.S. Global Exotics had a mortality rate of 72 percent during a six-week stock turnover period. During judicial proceedings against the dealer, the defense cited expert evidence that the wholesale industry’s mortality rate is 70 percent.

U.S. Global Exotics discarded almost 3,500 deceased or moribund animals—mostly reptiles—on a weekly basis. During the 10 days after confiscation, mortality rates were 18 percent for invertebrates, 44.5 percent for amphibians, 41.6 percent for reptiles, and 5.5 percent for mammals.

According to the study, “Causes of morbidity and mortality included cannibalism, crushing, dehydration, emaciation, hypothermic stress, infection, parasite infestation, starvation, overcrowding, stress/injuries, euthanasia on compassionate grounds, and undetermined causes.”

The dealer supplied exotic companion animals to customers including retail chains and zoological collections in at least 22 states and 25 countries. The operation was supplied by 16 states and 22 countries.