The Allure of Exotic Pets Bring Risks to Owners, Animals

Stoutz said calls for bans or restrictions on owning exotic or wild animals in the United States are the result of a few irresponsible owners who have ruined the experience for everyone else.

"I think it's ridiculous," he said. "I think it's people who are fanatics. We have rights in this country."

There is no reason someone can't keep an exotic animal as a pet as long as they know how to deal with the particular animal to keep them and the animal safe, he said.

Stoutz declined to comment on his business' financials, but said he deals with hundreds of people each year. He said he helped a Dallas woman bring a camel to her ranch about four years ago. She later told him it had learned how to catch a Frisbee in its mouth by watching the woman's dogs.

He said he's also brokered for zoos, but refused to specify which ones.

Still, Stoutz said he won't arrange for the sale of large cats, baboons or other large animals as pets or to private owners because they are too dangerous.

Laws regarding the private ownership of exotic and wild animals vary from state to state. Some, including Alaska, California, Colorado and Massachusetts, have total bans. Others require permits and some ban specific species but not others. West Virginia and Wisconsin don't have any laws addressing the issue, according to Born Free USA's roundup of state laws.

People who own exotics as pets are gambling with their safety, no matter how experienced they think they are or whether or not the animal was bred in captivity, according to Roberts.

"You can't take the wild out of the animal," he said. "You just never know."

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