Exotic : of foreign origin or character; not native; introduced from abroad, but not fully naturalized or acclimatized
Across the United States, millions of exotic animals are kept captive in private homes and in roadside zoos and menageries. The trade in exotic animals is a multi-billion dollar industry, and exotic animals are bred, sold, and traded in large numbers.
But these animals — including, among other species, lions, tigers, cougars, wolves, bears, monkeys, alligators, and venomous snakes and other reptiles — pose grave dangers to human health and safety. By their very nature, exotic animals are unpredictable and are incapable of being domesticated or tamed.
In many states, people are allowed to keep exotic animals in their homes and backyards without restrictions or with only minimal oversight. The conditions in which privately-owned exotic animals are kept also raise serious animal welfare concerns. Most people cannot provide the special care, housing, diet, and maintenance that exotic animals require. Many animals who have become too difficult for their owners to care for, or who have outgrown their usefulness as "pets" or profit-makers, end up languishing in small pens in backyards, doomed to live in deplorable conditions, or are abandoned or killed.
It has been estimated that as many as 15,000 non-human primates are kept by private individuals as pets in the United States. Nine states ban the keeping of non-human primates, but no federal law regulates ownership. In 1975, the Center for Disease Control prohibited their import into the US for use as pets. The breeding industry uses descendants of animals imported before 1975. Non-human primates of various species, including those listed as endangered, such as cottontop tamarins, baboons, chimpanzees, Diana monkeys, slow lorises, lemurs and gibbons are still available for purchase in the US.
In 2003, the US Captive Wild Animal Safety Act became law and in September 2007 the US Fish and Wildlife Service enacted rules to enforce the CWASA. The law now bans the sale or transport of big cats, which includes lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, snow leopards, clouded leopards, cheetahs and their hybrids across state lines for the pet trade. As of November 2010, most US states forbid the possession of exotic pets, but 9 states have no license or permit requirements.
NPR : Should Exotic Animals Be Kept As Pets?