Pictures and videos of animals flood the internet daily, but a growing trend has been post featuring exotic pets. But exotic pet ownership is something that many future pet owners are not always completely prepared for and can lead to dire consequences with many instances here in Central Florida. The animals themselves often endure excruciating circumstances after they are captured and often smuggled or sold on the internet.

Social media and the internet have greatly increased the popularity of exotic pets, but researchers found in 2015 that these images of wild animals portrayed as pets help to perpetrate widespread neglect of species people would otherwise never have contact with. The researches focused on the Slow Loris, a nocturnal primate from Asia that are currently listed as either “Vulnerable” or “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The Slow Loris is an incredibly cute animal with a small head, extra-large, human-like hands and big round eyes, but their path to pet ownership is incredibly hard. They are hunted-down and trapped and then prepared for transport by having their teeth clipped with no anesthesia or aftercare. They are then crammed into plastic crates or bags and many die painfully in the process.

Central Florida has also seen it’s share of problems from exotic pets, like a King Cobra that got loose in Orlando last September. According to News 6 in Orlando, the Florida Wildlife Commission received 264 reports of escaped exotic pets from 2006-2015; an average of two per month. Of these, 20 were reports of Python escapes. Many exotic pet owners do obtain the proper permits, but most that go unclaimed by wildlife officers are euthanized.

Birds suffer greatly from being taken from the wild especially Macaw’s. Birds are the largest group of captive wild animals in U.S. homes despite

Macaw’s are severely endangered

protections from the Wild Bird Conservation Act and the Endangered Species Act. The majority of birds are smuggled into the U.S, in anything from toilet paper tubes to tire well and hubcaps 60 percent don’t make it to their destination alive. This means smugglers have to capture about four times as many birds than they sell now making one-third of all parrot species under the threat of extinction.

Macaw’s often suffer in captivity from unprepared owners. The large birds need much more room than most owners can provide and they can much more high maintenance than originally expected. The biggest challenge is the lifelong commitment that comes with a Macaw. They can live to be 90 years old but average around 50 and many owners don’t take this in account when purchasing one.

So next time you watch a video of one of these cute, trendy animals in captivity, take a moment to watch another video of them in the wild. Most of these animals have been ripped from their families and have gone through awful conditions before they arrive at a pet store to be sold for top dollar. Most importantly, adopt your next pet and don’t shop for it.