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Surprising Science

Exotic Animals Bad for Human Health

Exotic pets are not safe and should not be kept in homes, advocates say. In addition to causing physical harm, exotic animals can spread rare diseases to their human owners. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Owning exotic pets is dangerous to human health, say experts. The recent incident in Zanesville, Ohio, highlights the need for strict laws to ban the possession of these animals by ordinary citizens. After Terry Thompson, of Zanesville, released a collection of lions, tigers, bears, monkeys and other animals from their cages, authorities were forced to shoot and kill nearly 50 exotic animals including 18 Bengal tigers. Since 1990, the animal advocacy group Born Free USA has documented 75 human deaths caused by domesticated wild animals. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Not only do exotic animals often have the proclivity to do bodily harm on humans, they can also spread infectious diseases. “‘It’s not just about bites, scratches or mauling,’ said Adam Roberts, executive vice president at Born Free USA. ‘It’s also about disease.’ Reptiles can carry salmonella bacteria, and monkeys can carry the herpes B virus, both of which can be deadly in humans.” What type of animal you can keep as a pet currently depends on where you live as ownership laws vary from state to state. 


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