Hobbies: Unloading the Ark

In Chicago, a day laborer walked into a pet shop and walked out with a black bear. A store in suburban Seattle is advertising a special on baby elephants (two for $9,998 and one free). A terrified Boston girl bought a five-foot indigo snake as a wedding gift for her fiance. Hunter Nick Del Duca, in Canyon City, Colo., has orders for six Colorado mountain lion cubs at $150 apiece, and can sell as many more as he can catch.

All over the U.S., pet lovers are buying what the trade calls "exotics." Rover, Tabby and Budgie are as popular...

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