Pets, Medical Research and Zoos - Wildlife
Animals and plants are gathered throughout the world for zoos, private collectors, pet shops and researchers in biology and medicine. Worldwide more than 6 million live birds are sold each year, most of them as pets, in countries like United States, Great Britain and West Germany. Large number of these animals die during shipment and after purchase, many are killed or abandoned by their owner. The ratio may be very high, for each bird that makes it into someone's home, 10 to 50 die along the way. As a direct result of this trade, at least nine bird species are now listed as threatened or endangered, but still these continue to be smuggled illegally into the US and Europe. For example, bird collectors may pay as much as $ 10,000 for a threatened hyacinth macaw illegally smuggled out of Brazil.
Animals are only one side of this story: plants such as cacti and orchids are also in high demand and support a growing industry. These may be used to decorate houses, offices and landscapes. A single, rare orchid may be sold for $ 5,000 to a collector. Each year, about 7 million cacti are imported to United States from more than 50 countries. Also, cacti are shipped out of Texas annually. In one area of Texas near Big Bend National Park, 25,000 to 50,000 cacti were uprooted in a single month for sale elsewhere. In the late 1970s, about 10 million cacti were shipped out of Texas annually.