Posts Tagged ‘exotic pets’

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.

Florida Exotic Pet Trade Under Fire

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

 A piece in the Sun Sentinel on the South Florida exotic pet biz this weekend (includes reference to Strictly Reptiles:  “From 2004 until April of this year, Strictly Reptiles imported 558,060 reptiles, 172,892 spiders and 161,597 amphibians, according to federal records.”)

Included with the story is this fascinating database which enables you to see who is shipping what from where to whom…  (My check of the DB suggests it’s far from comprehensive but it is still fascinating.)  And this map of major sources of supply(more…)

Pet Python Kills Child: Time for a Change

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Here’s the video of the tragic event that is rocking the reptile-keeping world.

(Here’s the news story). The snake appears to be an adolescent albino Burmese python.  At 8.5 feet, it’s about the size most people who keep them like.  Fortunately, there have been very few deaths from giant pythons in the United States, but this episode underscores the lack of responsibility leaders in the reptile industry have shown in making Burmese and reticulated pythons cornerstones of the reptile trade, selling tens of thousands to teenagers and other inappropriate buyers every year. 

There has recently been some excessive state and federal legislation floating around to eliminate keeping exotic animals of any kind (a hamster is technically exotic, so is a boa constrictor and a leopard gecko).  That legislation overshoots its mark in many respects (find out more at USARK) but its genesis can be traced to many in the reptile industry–big and small–who sell reptile species totally inappropriate to the average keeper (giant pythons, anacondas, large monitor lizards, alligators, venomous).  If that’s not enough head-in-the-sand leadership, some prominent dealers regularly import from known wildlife smugglers–exporters who also traffic some of the world’s rarest plants, birds and mammals. 

It might not have been possible to avoid this terrible death, but it may well have been possible to avoid the Everglades python story, the Cape Coral Nile Monitor story, and others that seem destined to doom legitimate reptile keeping.  Leaders in the industry need to (1) stop selling giant or venomous reptiles to non-experts, (2) stop importing anything from smugglers, and (3) as we do with most wild game, stop selling commercial-scale, wild-caught reptiles, period.  Saying these things may cost me a couple friends, but I believe they are necessary in today’s world, and the right thing to do.  There is no Second Amendment protection here.  If the industry doesn’t better regulate itself, someone else surely will do it instead. And tragedies like this one will certainly continue.

If you’ve got a view on this please post it (click comments below).  And check out PIJAC and HSUS for differing views.