The Bottom Line

What’s behind the US trade in exotic animals?

A new film follows baby exotic animals from cute appearances on US TV shows to often wretched conditions later on.

“The Conservation Game” dives deep into the trafficking of exotic animals, especially big cats like lions, tigers and leopards, across the United States.

For decades, TV personalities have trotted cute “ambassador animals” onto morning and late-night talk shows to talk about conservation and animal protection. But this documentary by Michael Webber shows us what happens afterwards when the animals are sold off at auction or kept in back yard cages on private property.

Host Steve Clemons asks about this largely unregulated trade in the US with Webber, Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin, and legal expert Carney Anne Nasser.