The Dark World Of The Exotic Pet Trade

Look at him

Do you see his mother’s blood spill onto his fur?

His face buried in her limp body unable to muffle

his family’s screams ringing through the rainforest,

rifle shots and the thud of ten bodies to the ground.

Machetes carve through the chimpanzee troop

to him.

His little fingers cling to his mother’s arm

as a boot rolls her over and

a stranger peels him away.

His mother’s devoted embrace replaced

by chains indenting his skin,

padlocked to a fate he no longer owns.

Car doors slam shut and through the slits of a crate

he stares into darkness as black as the market that demands him

with trauma as embedded as the bullet in his bones.


Listen to her

Do you hear theft’s sinister whisper?

Nothing but a bird barely breathing inside a suitcase.

Her voice disabled by drugs

beak taped shut and wings cracked

in criminal secrecy.

All her wildness stuffed in a toilet paper roll

as if she is disposable and not endangered,

stacked atop dozens of other tropical prisoners

each crammed in their own cardboard casket,

buried alive but not for long

because theft has not only an undertone but

a death sentence.

No food no water and no other survivors.

Her eyes dart in the dark with a jolt of turbulence

as a fledgling bleeds out beside her.


Millions more

across the animal kingdom are

ripped from their homes and strung out

across continents,

each being connected not by blood

but blood shed.

A human can so carelessly trade someone’s future

for currency

creating a wicked equivalent

between life and merchandise

at the expense of entire ecosystems

for fascination

purchasing a once wild animal for their home

while their child’s stuffed toy flung on the floor

has more freedom

for entertainment

exploiting a neglected collection of

enfeebled bodies and splintered instincts

in rows of solitary confinement called a roadside zoo.


Do you see him?

He survived an atrocity to slump in a cage,

his intelligence shackled and succumbing

to the madness and apathy of imprisonment.


Do you hear her?

She was plucked from a gene pool too small to recover

and now crestfallen in solitude she sings

the requiem of a species.


The exotic pet trade.

It is a degrading scam

because a pet

is not born in the rainforest

stolen from the canopy

reliant on wilderness,

because trade

is quite a gracious term for torture.

And yet it is the animals who are locked up

to serve an unnatural life sentence

for human crimes

concealed by ignorance and corruption.

The wild is waiting for witnesses.

Do you stand?

Picture of Stori Smith

Stori Smith

Conservationist and Sr staff writer for SAFE Worldwide

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this web site are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of SAFE Worldwide.

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