and species that are new and emerging. Because of the demanding and, in some cases, little understood husbandry requirements of many exotic species, there is concern about the welfare of many species kept in captivity (Keeble, 2003). Some commentators and animal-welfare advocacy groups take the position that exotic animals should not be kept as pets (Engebrestson et al., 2003). They believe that the complex behavioral and nutritional requirements cannot be met in captivity and that suffering and shortened life spans result. Research on the animal-welfare issues related to exotic-pet ownership and appropriate husbandry practices is required to determine which species should not be kept as pets.
The assessment of risks posed by and effects of zoonotic agents requires the application of genomics, proteomics, and sequencing of the agents. Research expertise in exotic- and caged-pet physiology, pathology, and immunology; advanced molecular biological techniques; epidemiology and population health; and diagnostic tests and therapeutic agents is needed. Experts would have to work with genome-sequencing centers and would require access to the appropriate biosafety laboratories.
Funding for research on exotic-pet health and husbandry issues is sparse. Funds are available from some private funding organizations (for example, the Morris Animal Foundation) and from internal veterinary-college research funds (for example, pet- or companion-animal trust funds).