Marley’s 2-year-old bobcat, Margeaux, walks past another cat, one of four in total, in her home. To keep the animals, she pays an annual fee to maintain her license and has regular USDA inspections to ensure the animals are healthy, that they have adequate space, and that appropriate boundaries are set.
With numerous local, state and federal agencies regulating private ownership of exotic animals, estimating the overall population is difficult. There are about 7,500 active licenses in the USDA database, which also includes zoos, magicians and other nonresidential facilities. Many other exotic animals are not regulated by the USDA.
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