Inside Edition Investigates Exotic Pet auction

Avatar BCR | September 28, 2006 30 Views 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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Anyone who wants a pet these days can simply go to the local animal shelter and adopt one of the thousands of pets who are in need of a home.  However, for some, exotic animals are the only way to go when it comes to pets.  But do they make good pets?

INSIDE EDITION traveled to rural Mt. Hope, Ohio, about sixty miles south of Cleveland, for a very unusual auction.  Hundreds of people from across the country crammed into a giant barn to bid on exotic animals. A capuchin monkey went for $5,000 dollars, a kangaroo for $1000 and a lemur for $1200.  Also available were zebras, alligators, monkeys, camels and lions.

Signs posted in the barn say "Danger," suggesting the animals are not as cute and cuddly as they may seem. 

INSIDE EDITION took hidden cameras to the auction accompanied by Tim Harrison, a police officer in another Ohio county who is also an animal expert, and is often called upon when exotic animals escape.

Harrison says events like these are typical of exotic animal auctions across the country, and that "Exotic animals need to be left in the wild."

The auction is legal in Ohio, but Harrison says some of the buyers are likely to take the animals back to states and counties where they are forbidden.

The animals look cute and harmless when they are purchased, but in a year or so, many will be full-grown and extremely difficult to handle, not to mention dangerous.

In March 2000, while visiting relatives, a boy almost got his arm ripped off by a pet tiger.  In 1999 a 10-year-old was killed by a pet tiger in her father’s ex-wife’s backyard. 

So where do these exotic animals come from?   One man selling some animals at the Ohio auction is Jeff Ash.  INSIDE EDITION was able to trace him back to a small zoo that he owns in upstate New York, loaded with exotic animals. 

Asked if there was any danger to Mr. Ash’s breeding and selling of these exotic animals, Ash’s lawyer said, "There’s a danger to anything. There’s a danger to owning a German Shepard."

Ash says he never sells an exotic animal to someone who isn’t qualified to handle them, but Harrison says that’s hard to do when you’re selling them to the highest bidder.


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