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Exotic Animal Incidents Database

Wild animals belong in the wild — not in the confinement of circuses, zoos, people's backyards or apartments. Kept in captivity, wild and exotic animals are not able to perform their natural behaviors and many literally go insane, suffering psychological and physical deprivation. Humans are at equal risk as a result of escapes, bites or other forms of attack.

Here you will find an interactive database of attacks on humans, attacks on other animals, and escapes by exotic animals in the United States that Born Free USA has tracked since 1990. Using this database, you can search by state, species, incident type or even a keyword to compile exactly what you're looking for. And each incident in your search is plotted on a map of the United States for a quick visual of how widespread the problem is (and it is widespread).

It's only a partial list, because we can only track the incidents we hear about, usually through media reports. This doesn't cover the potentially huge number of incidents in which someone is injured or a captive animal is harmed or even killed but the incident does not make the news.

This database tracks:

  • Exotic "Pet" Incidents

    Wild animals kept as "pets" pose safety and health risks to their possessors and to any other person coming into contact with them. Across the country, privately held exotic animals have escaped from their enclosures and freely roamed the community, and have attacked humans and other animals. Children and adults have been mauled by tigers, bitten by monkeys and asphyxiated by snakes. Further, many exotic animals are carriers of zoonotic diseases such as herpes B, salmonellosis and rabies, all of which are dangerously communicable to humans.
  • Circus Incidents

    Elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas — all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in acts and traveling circuses to entertain an uninformed audience. The conflict between their instincts and the harsh realities of captivity and travel — as well as training methods that utilize violence, fear and intimidation — cause wild animals tremendous amounts of stress. It is little wonder that many performing captive exotic animals literally are driven mad and rebel in rampages that injure or kill people.
  • Zoo Incidents

    AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums)-accredited animal exhibits and non-accredited "road-side zoos" are a poor substitute for "the wild" for captive wild and exotic animals. Held in small, sometimes barren enclosures, unable to perform naturally and many even denied the companionship of their own kind, captive zoo animals escape, attack and even die trying to be free.