Ending the trade in exotic animals

Exotic animals such as birds, reptiles and fish are hard to keep healthy in captivity. Unlike domesticated species that have co-evolved with humans for thousands of years, they are often highly specialised to inhabit unique environments, and are not used to co-habiting with humans. Red slider turtles, for example, are popular exotic animals. Originating from Southern US states and Mexico, they inhabit warm, brackish or fresh water, and require large amounts of water per individual and strong filtration systems because of the substantial wastes they produce, as well as UVA and UVB lamps, basking areas, warm environments and temperature gradients.


Accordingly, it was shocking to see around 40-50 of these animals crowded into a tank large enough for only one to two, in recent photos apparently taken from an Auckland pet store. Such severe overcrowding would substantially stress these animals, and make it virtually impossible to adequately filter the water. There were also no signs of basking areas, UV lamps and the other environmental elements necessary to safeguard the welfare of these animals.


Such cases demonstrate the problems associated with the commercial trade in exotic animals. Studies have revealed mortality rates close to 100% when species are sourced from the wild, and rates around 70% during the six week average confinement at wholesalers. When these animals are purchased by unsuspecting consumers – sometimes impulsively – death rates in the first year are around 75% for all reptiles, and 90% for all fish.


These appalling figures starkly reveal the exploitative nature of this trade. The animals are severely exploited, but consumers are also exploited too. The commercial trade in exotic animals should clearly end.

Take Action

  • Watch and share the TVNZ interview about these turtles, with Andrew Knight, SAFE’s veterinary Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics

  • Write to your local newspaper and call your local talkback radio station, condemning the commercial trade in exotic animals.

  • Join SAFE’s volunteer network, and participate in action to help animals, the environment and your local community.

27 July 2017

pet stop turtles