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Exotic animals have been kept as pets across the UK for years, imported from all over the world into British households. Currently, there are over 4,500 exotic pets kept in the country, BBC reports, including big cats, large reptiles and primates. In spite of increasing campaigning to highlight the cruelty of practices that bring animals outside their natural habitats and into our homes, interest in owning exotic pets has not appeared to have waned. One question particularly pertinent to discussions on the ownership of exotic pets is how private captivity changes their behaviour.

Studies have been done to monitor and find patterns in behavioural changes amongst pets kept in captivity, however there is limited information on the ways in which private ownership can affect exotic pets. Such studies also need to take into account the operational practices exotic pets undergo in order to coexist with their owners. For instance, dangerous exotic pets such as snakes and birds of prey are regularly de-fanged and declawed to minimise risk of injury to their owners.

Veterinary Medicine applicants may want to think of the long term health risks posed to exotic animals who are kept privately in the UK, while Biological Sciences applicants could consider the ways in which the behaviour of exotic animals are influenced and transformed through private ownership. For Land Economy applicants, the implications of self-funding and self-management involved in the private ownership of exotic pets could be analysed in juxtaposition with public enclosures in zoos, for instance.

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