Dangerous Trade: Exotic Animals

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Dangerous Trade: Exotic Animals
Exotic animals are at the center of a multi-billion dollar business where even legitimate sales can lead to tragic consequences.

CNBC takes you inside a multibillion-dollar black market where rare, exotic animals are bought and sold like commodities and profit outwieghs risk in the underground wildlife trade.

Exotic animals are at the center of a multibillion-dollar business, where even legitimate sales can lead to tragic consequences. Alligators, lions and bears are just some of the tens of thousands of exotic animals people consider pets. While the thought of people owning dangerous animals and the risks of escape are troubling, it's just the beginning.

In a black market worth an estimated $10 billion worldwide, animals are butchered for their most valuable parts, and brazen smugglers will stop at nothing to get rich. CNBC's Brian Shactman takes you to the front lines, where U.S. law enforcement battles a thriving underground black market. And illegal or not, experts say this trade could have disastrous repercussions — the threat: deadly strains of diseases that could cross over from wildlife into the human population.

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  • Shactman joined CNBC in 2007 as a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor for CNBC's business day programming.

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