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The situation is worse than I imagined. In my last column (May 8), I wrote about smugglers carrying live primates into Japan in their luggage. Days after that column appeared, I was put in touch with an exotic pet importer who confirmed that government oversight of trade in animals is abysmal.

As a professional importer who loves animals, Mr. Tanaka (not his real name) is concerned that smugglers and pet shops operating illegally are giving his profession a bad name, and putting customers and animals at risk. He is concerned that people are buying animals that are caught in the wild, unhealthy and not neutered. Unaware and unprepared, buyers are getting far more than they bargained for, including illegal animals, disease and hormonal time bombs set to go off at maturity.

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