Scary article in the New York Times today - FaunaClassifieds
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General Legislative Discussions Any general discussion concerning legislative issues or events. Not necessarily specific to a particular region, or even a type of animal group.

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Old 07-13-2003, 10:54 PM   #1
Thumbs down Scary article in the New York Times today

The Problem of Exotic Pets
Over the past few months we've had several unfortunate reminders of the biological common ground we share with other species. The SARS virus probably crossed over from animals to humans in Guangdong Province in China. Humans got monkeypox from pet prairie dogs, which probably caught it, in turn, from an imported Gambian rat. Meanwhile, at the movies, there is "28 Days Later," a horror film about a "rage" virus that passes swiftly and catastrophically from chimpanzees to humans. We can probably discount the dangers of a fast-acting horror-movie virus, but not the others.

If nothing else, the emergence of SARS and the recent outbreak of monkeypox in the United States are reminders that the potential biological effects of globalization can be chilling. Ordinarily, prairie dogs, native to America, do not catch diseases from rats native to western and central Africa. And humans do not ordinarily catch diseases from prairie dogs. What made the chain of monkeypox infection possible were humans who keep wild animals prairie dogs and Gambian rats as pets.

Although the federal government has now banned the distribution of prairie dogs and the importation of rodents from Africa, the monkeypox scare demonstrates how poorly regulated the ownership of and traffic in wild or exotic pets really are. A dozen states and some localities outlaw owning dangerous animals, and the federal government, as a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, prohibits, in most cases, owning or transporting endangered animals. But that still leaves most of the world's wildlife free to be captured, transported, sold and kept as pets. There has been a significant escalation in the trafficking of such pets in recent years.

For selfish reasons alone, Americans should avoid keeping exotic pets. The dangers of sharp teeth and long claws are obvious, but so are the dangers of zoonotic diseases, which can be transmitted from animals to humans. Monkeypox affected only a few dozen people, but those who get salmonellosis from pet reptiles number in the tens of thousands. Macaque monkeys carry a form of herpes B that is very dangerous to humans. As monkeypox also demonstrated, it can be very hard to predict just what opportunities viruses will exploit to make the jump from animals to humans.

We should also oppose the ownership of wild animals as pets for another reason. It is bad for the animals, individually and as species. Almost no one is capable of giving exotic pets, no matter how small, the conditions they would enjoy in the wild. The death rate in the trafficking of wild animals, especially reptiles, is horrendous, and the plundering of wild populations for pets has decimated some species, especially tortoises. The boundary between domestication and wildness is not a soft one. It is, essentially, a biological absolute as well as a cultural one. Some kinds of animals have been tamed, one by one, but only a very few kinds have ever been domesticated, and those are the only ones that should be kept as pets.

The effort to block the trading and ownership of wild animals has been slow and piecemeal. But each piece helps. At the moment, the Senate is considering a bill called the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which, with some obvious exceptions, would prevent interstate commerce in the big cats. (A similar bill has been introduced in the House.) This bill is being sponsored by Senators James Jeffords and John Ensign, who is one of two veterinarians in the Senate. The other veterinarian, Senator Wayne Allard, will preside over a hearing this week for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the subject of zoonotic diseases.

As his hearings proceed, it will be worth remembering that Gambian rats and prairie dogs are not to blame for the monkeypox outbreak. No wild animal chooses to be made a pet.
Old 07-14-2003, 03:51 AM   #2
Seamus Haley
those who get salmonellosis from pet reptiles number in the tens of thousands
Unfounded lie. Often spread by PETA, reptile related salmonellosis is virtually unheard of- most who get it from a herp end up with such a mild case that they don't go to the hospital, putting it down as a stomach bug.

The death rate in the trafficking of wild animals, especially reptiles, is horrendous, and the plundering of wild populations for pets has decimated some species
Unfounded lie. As of the last CITES conference, the death rate is well below 3%

It is bad for the animals, individually and as species. Almost no one is capable of giving exotic pets, no matter how small, the conditions they would enjoy in the wild.
Was this written by Kraplin?!

Danerous stuff here... Luckily nobody with a brain considers the New York Times to be a credible news source, but this still deserves some editorial responses at the very least... I know I'll be throwing a few letters and emailed pieces their way, anyone else inclined to take a few moments and do the same, it can't hurt.
Old 07-15-2003, 05:17 PM   #3
Unfounded lie. As of the last CITES conference, the death rate is well below 3%
is this 3% considered DOA because if so I could believe it. I wonder what the death rate is 2 or 3 or 4 days later. I'd bet it is a heck of a lot higher than 3%.

Still, the article is cause for concern because some people still believe what they read in the newspaper and see and hear on TV.

Steve Schindler
Old 07-15-2003, 07:27 PM   #4
Seamus Haley
According to an article written by Jon Coote for the SNHS...

Out of an analysis of 83,971 shipments of CITES listed species (That would be CITES I and II) the average mortality rate was 1.25%, out of those which arrived alive, 85.9 arrived in good condition, 12.1% in medium condition and 2% in poor condition. 90% of shipments did not experience any mortality upon arrival and the highest mortality rate of the species analyzed was the Senegal Chameleon with only 2.1%

It's in the April 2003 issue of The Rattler newsletter, the Southern Nevada Herp Society might be willing to forward the full article or a copy of the newsletter... or at least the text of the article if they're contacted in the right manner.

The mortality rates of animals both upon arrival and within a reasonable period of time afterwards are grossly exaggerated by those rabid antihuman groups to such an extent that their propaganda on the issue has injected itself into the popular conception of imports.

Heck, Kraplin has articles where she describes how the ball python trade is obliterating wild populations... When in fact the countries that have these animals have realized that there is a valueable and sustainable resource avaliable and have modified collection procedures.

That isn't to say that the horror stories don't happen, but they need to be looked at in terms of the total volume of animals involved.
Old 12-19-2003, 05:12 AM   #5
Ken Foose
The article in the SNHS newsletter was Jon Coote's synopsis of the world CITES convention that he had just attended in Chile. He did a presentation on this for our herp society and gave me the article to print in our newsletter. It is also published in "Reptilian" magazine, a European publication that Jon has a monthly column in. If he said it, it is officially recorded that way. He has another article "In Support of Substainable Use..." where he mentions the mortality rate of these animals being very low (at least the ones coming into Europe where he is). I will try and post it because it has some good points. He is President (or was last I spoke with him) Of the International Herpetological Society and one of the best advocates we reptile keepers (as hobbyist) have on our side.

Kim Anderson (I forgot my password again)
President of the Southern Nevada Herpetological Society
and Ken's "better"
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Old 12-19-2003, 05:13 AM   #6
Ken Foose

that was suppose to read "better" half and just kidding
Old 06-07-2004, 03:37 PM   #7
None can tell you which and whom to love....I am taking the risks and not PETA...humane bs society or the federals....They better be reminded that freedom is something they can`t take away from us and they are vulnerable as hell....They do wars for oil and they want to dictate everything...Forget that i will be waiting with bazookas...

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