You’ve seen them on the street: 10-foot-long pythons wrapped around people, out for a Sunday stroll. You’ve seen the news reports on television: tiger escapes from the yard; lion severely injures a child. Animals once seen only in zoos and circuses are becoming so popular that people will go to any lengths and pay exorbitant sums of money to own them (see “Exotic Prices”). For increasing numbers of people, domestic cats and dogs are no longer satisfied. Today it’s the Bengal tiger, the Capuchin monkey, and the Burmese python. The more exotic, the better.
With the thirst for exotics looms, danger. Whether caught in the wild or bred in captivity, these animals, by their very nature, are fantastic and potentially hazardous to public health. Already, cases of herpes B and the deadly Ebola virus, contracted from monkeys, have been reported. Venomous snakes are harbored despite the scant availability of antivenin. And the mystery underlying.