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Keeping wild and exotic animals as pets threatens public health and safety as well as animal welfare. Wild animals can attack, they can spread disease, and the average pet owner cannot provide the care they need in captivity. From tigers to bears to chimpanzees, these are dangerous wild animals—and in some states it's perfectly legal to keep one as a pet.

  • A young macaque in a barren cage at Catoctin Zoo in Thurmont, Md. Debbie Leahy/The HSUS

Maryland's Fatal Attractions

A new report details dangerous and inhumane conditions at three roadside zoos in Maryland, where experts uncovered filthy conditions and an extreme lack of basic animal care.

Learn more on Wayne's blog Read the full report

Dangerous Species

  • Big Cats

    Often subjected to extreme confinement and neglect, pet lions, tigers, and other big cats have killed 16 people in the U.S. since 1990 and injured hundreds more. problems with big cats as pets

  • Primates

    Pet primates, who often suffer long-term deprivation and neglect, grow into aggressive and unpredictable adults who can easily attack and transmit disease. Problems with primates as pets

  • Bears

    Pet bears suffer immensely in the pet trade, and even those captive-bred and bottle-raised are capable of killing people or inflicting serious injuries. problems with bears as pets

  • Snakes

    Captive snakes and other reptiles are difficult and dangerous to care for, and released or escaped snakes wreak havoc on the environment. problems with snakes as pets


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