Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine sponsors art exhibit that shines light on illegal pet trade

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Millions of wild animals are put into the illegal pet trade every year. Four out of five animals die in transit or within the first year.

“Caged: The Illegal Pet Trade,” an art exhibit at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, is a collection by Justin Ladoux that hopes to shed some light on this important but often neglected subject. The exhibit is open through Nov. 26.

Animal health and well-being is our specialty, and everyone in the College of Veterinary Medicine encourages responsible pet ownership,” says Dr. Willie Reed, dean of the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine. “The illegal pet trade is a cruel, inhumane business, and this outstanding art exhibit is an excellent means of educating people about this issue.”

The internet has helped fuel exotic pet ownership by making it easier for people to shop for numerous wildlife species, says Dr. Lori Corriveau, pet wellness veterinarian in the college’s Small Animal Community Practice.

“Many people are unaware of where exotic pets are from and how the pet trade affects world populations,” she says. “Some exotic pets are bred from captivity, and some are taken directly from the wild. Sadly, many of those taken from the wild will die in transit.”

Corriveau also says that many owners do not have adequate knowledge, financial resources or capability to adequately replicate a natural habitat for an exotic pet in their home. Even when proper care can be afforded, sometimes finding that care can be difficult.

“Many of the problems I see with exotics in our Small Animal Community Practice at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital are related to poor or inappropriate husbandry. It is heartbreaking whenever these beautiful creatures are improperly cared for or living in an unsuitable environment,” she says. “That is why education of clients is such an important part of my job. That education before purchase could help you find the appropriate pet for you and give you the knowledge to be a responsible pet owner.”

Corriveau stresses that those seeking to own an exotic pet should have the knowledge, financial resources, skill, time and available help to properly care for the animal. She also says people looking to own an exotic animal should consider rescuing the animal from a reputable rescue organization.

“Caged: The Illegal Pet Trade” is co-sponsored by the College of Veterinary Medicine, the City of Lafayette and the Columbian Park Zoo.  The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S. 10th St. in Lafayette, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Admission is free.  

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