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Exotic animals are not well-represented in geographic studies, even in the emerging sub-field of animal geography. With the dearth of exotic animal studies, and the relevance of exotic pets in the public consciousness and in the news, a basic, introductory study such as this is necessary to begin examining the myriad ways in which exotic pets intersect with, and have influence in, both the site and situation of modern human-oriented environments.
Exotic pet attack incidents and both state and federal laws regarding the private ownership of exotic mammals as pets were examined in detail within the scope of this research. In addition, a survey of 133 exotic pet owners across the country indicated a variety of animals owned, as well as diverse viewpoints on the issues associated with ownership of exotic animals as pets, many of which stress the health and safety of both humans and animals. This dissertation provides a foundation into the subject of exotic pet ownership in the United States, and gives some insight into the complex relationships between these animals, the people that own them, and the human-constructed environment they share. This largely unexplored topic requires more attention so that we may examine attitudes about, and laws regarding, exotic pet ownership and its impact on people, on animals, and on the spaces in which they interact. These and other issues can be – and indeed, should be – explored within a geographic research framework.
Supervisors: Paul Hanson and Christina Dando