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Critics slam Mexico’s ‘corrupt’ and ‘inhumane’ exotic animals market

September 2, 2015
Lions can be purchased legally at a Guadalajara pet shop for $4,000 to $7,000. Photo by LIBERO Santuario.

Lions can be purchased legally in Guadalajara for $4,000 to $7,000. Photo by LIBERO Santuario.

Beyond the stalls lined with love potions and Santa Muerte statuettes, Mexico City’s labyrinth-like Sonora market houses thousands of caged animals.

Rows of visibly distressed kittens, puppies, piglets, lambs, goats, and giant rabbits are crammed into the tiniest of cells. Alongside them are tanks containing iguanas, turtles, piranhas, and enormous toads used for witchcraft, plus a huge variety of caged birds, including canaries, turkeys, and peacocks.

But the most exotic animals for sale are those hidden from view.

“The Sonora market is the nucleus of animal-trafficking in Mexico City,” Dr. Leonora Esquivel, cofounder of the animal rights group AnimaNaturalis Mexico, told VICE News. “You can find any kind of animal there. They aren’t all exhibited but if you have the contacts you can get toucans, monkeys, lions, etc.”

When VICE News made a discreet inquiry, one vendor pulled a tightly wrapped ball of cloth from a shelf packed with opaque tubs and cardboard boxes.

A baby Morelet's crocodile costs $200 in a Guadalajara pet shop.

A baby Morelet’s crocodile will set you back $200 in a Guadalajara pet shop.

Unwrapping it, he revealed a meter-long Texas rat snake that had been bound so tightly it could not move. The asking price was 700 pesos, or about $40. Moments later, a police officer came strolling past, seemingly unfazed by the chaos around her and the relentless cacophony of screeching animals…

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE News. 

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