Cover image for Animal underworld : inside America's black market for rare and exotic species
Animal underworld : inside America's black market for rare and exotic species
Green, Alan, 1950-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : PublicAffairs, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxix, 286 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
1370 Lexile.
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SK592.U6 G74 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This shocking and groundbreaking report on the trafficking and inhumane treatment of rare and exotic animals exposes a whole network of people and institutions more interested in profit than in animal welfarefrom zoos and wildlife parks to exotic meat dealers and Amish farmers..

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Based on hundreds of interviews and public records from 48 states, this report provides a disturbing look at the exotic animal trade. Award-winning investigative reporter Green and The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit organization that investigates national ethics-related issues, expose an "unholy alliance" between so-called respectable entities, such as zoos, amusement parks, and research labs, and commercial traders who lack scruples and integrity in the disposition of animals. That zoo and research lab castoffs are being well cared for is an illusion made possible by "middle men." Paperwork is often inaccurate or incomplete, sometimes deliberately so, making it difficult or impossible to track specific animals. Zoos and labs fail to perform the due diligence required to ensure placements that protect the public as well as the animals. Once loved animals and "surplus" animals frequently end up at the auction rings where the buyer is unknown, in canned hunts, at roadside attractions, or with taxidermists. Strategies for remediation do exist. But meaningful change would require intense effort and no small amount of legislative clout. --Grace Fill

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a shocking and heartbreaking expos‚, Green examines the fate of unwanted animals cast off by U.S. zoos and theme parks. Many of the nation's leading zoos, he reports, sell their unwanted animalsÄwhether surplus, aging and decrepit, or babies bred for saleÄto supposedly reputable dealers who, in turn, dump the animals onto roadside attractions, unaccredited petting zoos, private hunting parks and bogus sanctuaries that will hand over endangered species to anyone for a buck. Using easily doctored documents, the animals are laundered into obscurity, shunted from opportunistic breeders to wretched menageries, auctioneers, backyard hobbyists and even university research centers. Many of these animals, according to Green, suffer cruel abuse, mistreatment or fatal neglect; some end up as exotic meat on the grocery shelf. He also argues that zoos ignore their own edict by permitting animals to migrate almost uncontrollably into the hands of unaccredited institutions. Working with the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, Green crisscrossed the country, combing thousands of health certificates and interviewing hundreds of people. He tracked smugglers and poachers who traffic in rare species disappearing from their native habitats, which are then sold to "exotic pet" owners. He takes aim particularly at the thousands of Americans who keep dangerous pets like tigers or cougars, inviting human tragedies. A major feat of investigative reporting, this book spells out sensible strategies to clean up this unholy mess, including a proposal that zoos should provide cradle-to-grave care to their denizens. Green's important, eye-opening report could spark a national debate. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Remember the last time you took a child to the zoo and cooed over the baby lion? Or the time you stopped at that roadside petting zoo and enjoyed feeding the deer and antelopes? Most of us have similar happy memories of summer afternoons spent observing animals in zoos and game parks. Unfortunately, there is a harsh reality that lies under the surface. Investigative reporter Green, with the support of the Center for Public Integrity, scratched that surface, and the result is this disturbing expos‚ of the trade in exotic and endangered species. Animals are "laundered," given false health certificates and new identities and provenance. They are sold at auction, ending up in canned hunts, nonaccredited and disreputable zoos, or in meat markets. They are dismembered, and their organs are used as aphrodisiacs. They are beaten, tortured, left to die of starvation or dehydration. This shocking book is an eye-opener that belongs in every collection.ÄPeggie Partello, Keene State Coll. Lib., NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. IX
Introductionp. XIII
1 Here Today..p. 1
2 Blind Faithp. 19
3 Disappearing Actsp. 44
4 Paper Trailsp. 67
5 To Marketp. 90
6 Unholy Alliancesp. 111
7 An Exaltation of Liesp. 136
8 Unfair Gamep. 157
9 Time Bombsp. 179
10 Going, Going, Gonep. 205
11 End of the Linep. 227
12 The Captive Kingdomp. 248
Epiloguep. 261
Source Notes and Acknowledgmentsp. 265
About the Center for Public Integrityp. 271
Indexp. 273