Demand Growing In South Africa For Exotic Pets

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Written by Ann Brown

Corn snakes and other exotic animals are becoming hot commodities in South Africa. In fact, the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry.

“The fact of the matter is that many people are holding these [exotic pets]. Some are holding them illegally, some legally, but there are a couple of things you need to know before you can hold a creature,” Tshepang Makganyane, general manager of the Johannesburg Zoo, told CNBC Africa.

“Popular exotic animals, such as the corn snake from South America, can be purchased from local pet shops in South Africa, but buyers are required to own special permits for the animal,” reports CNBC.

The country keeps close watch on the exotic pet business. The South African nature conservation and environmental department regulates the legal requirements regarding exotic animals.

“The cost of keeping [an exotic pet] is even more than the [cost of the pet] itself, because you have to consider issues regarding food, and the veterinary requirements. You have to clean after it every day, provide it with care and your time also counts,” Makganyane explained.

Still, the exotic pet trade is a controversial industry as activists regard such animals is endangered species rather than exotic pets.

On top of this, the industry is also riddled with illegal trade, with many animals dying.

Yet, demand for the ownership of exotic animals continues to rise.

“Private individuals who run pet shops, it’s lucrative business for them. With us, as conservationists, we keep these animals to teach people about them, look at their welfare, upkeep and look at their health,” said Johannesburg Zoo education supervisor Nathi Mvula.