Parrots and snakes, wild cats and monkeys—exotic pets can now be found everywhere from skyscraper apartments and fenced suburban backyards to roadside petting zoos. In Animal Traffic Rosemary-Claire Collard investigates the multibillion-dollar global exotic pet trade and the largely hidden processes through which exotic pets are produced and traded as lively capital. Tracking the capture of animals in biosphere reserves in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize; their exchange at exotic animal auctions in the United States; and the attempted rehabilitation of former exotic pets at a wildlife center in Guatemala, Collard shows how exotic pets are fetishized both as commodities and as objects. Their capture and sale sever their ties to complex socio-ecological networks in ways that make them appear as if they do not have lives of their own. Collard demonstrates that the enclosure of animals in the exotic pet trade is part of a bioeconomic trend in which life is increasingly commodified and objectified under capitalism. Ultimately, she calls for a “wild life” politics in which animals are no longer enclosed, retain their autonomy, and can live for the sake of themselves.
Animal Traffic by Rosemary-Claire Collard