Archive for the ‘General Wildlife’ Category

Froggie Food Fights Foreshadowed

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

 

Here are a couple of stories on a growing problem, or at least an always-evolving problem, the use of reptiles and amphibians as human food.  

Popular among Asians and re-located rednecks, bullfrogs in San Francisco are bringing in the chytrid virus, a deadly amphibian disease that is wiping out frogs around the world.  Here’s a well-written piece on the bullfrog dining issue by John Upton via NY Times Blog.  For more on the virus or on frogs in general go to Kerry Kriger’s comprehensive Save the Frogs, and remember April 28 is Save the Frogs Day (which doesn’t, of course, mean leftovers).

The Washington Post recently had this story on the sale of live animals in Asian supermarkets–live crayfish, eel, bass, bullfrogs, etc.–which are often raised on farms.   The Virginia state agent is wrong when he says in the story that history shows when wildlife is commercialized the population dwindles.  History shows that when wildlife is taken from the wild on a commercial scale its population dwindles, but when wildlife is farmed, as is the case with the species in the story, that is not always the case.   It depends how valuable the animal is price-wise, its reproduction rate, commitment of law enforcement, and the viability of its wild population:  rabbits are better farmed, tigers are not.  American alligators, once on the verge of extinction and now prolific and widely farmed, make a great case study.  They do not, however, make for especially good eating.

My own version of these stories occurred at a pet store not long ago.  I was looking at a pair of red-eared slider turtles swimming around a tank.  An Asian woman standing next to me said to her boyfriend, “They’re so cute.  I just want to take them home and have them for lunch.”  I have heard the same thing about lobsters in Maine, sans the cute part.

 

Exotic Animal Incident Database

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Want to know the last time someone was bitten by a lion in your neighborhood?  Check out Born Free’s Exotic Animal Incident Database.

My favorite incident: An 80-year old man is in fair condition after his 6-foot tall, 200-pound kangaroo attacked him for 15 minutes at an exotic-animal farm in Ohio. The man was taken to a hospital…

That’s alot of Joey.

More on the Great Slaughter in Ohio

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Some more on the Ohio wildlife slaughter today. I’m quoted in The New Scientist and in  this Washington Post story. My actual quote about allowing people to keep dangerous carnivores was, “It’s the same as having a loaded gun with a child in the room.”  That part about the child in the room is the key line.  Loaded guns don’t kill people anymore than teeth do.  But add a small child or a large animal to the mix and you have a chance for disaster.

I’m being asked why people keep these animals.  With all due respect to Jack Hanna’s work for animals, one reason certainly is when he and others go on talk shows with fuzzy and cute animals on leashes.  When the bobcat or the lemur or the chimp in diapers jumps on the desk it looks like something one could have at home.  When Dave Letterman pets the snow leopard and says, “Gee, Jack this fur is so soft!” there may be some benefit in public awareness, but there is certainly somebody out there who watches the same moment and says, “Yea, I want one of those, too.”  If they have the money, and it does not usually take much, the only thing they need to get one is the internet.

Reality TV has blurred the line between home and wild.  Shows like Fear Factor, in which people were made to eat mass quantities of live insects, or stick their hands in piles of snakes, turn animals into objects.  They diminish our respect for wildlife.  Note that very few pictures or video taken in Zanesville Ohio show the actual dead animals.  That is the real reality tv, and it would do everybody good to see it.