Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What "Exotics"...

... did Dr. John Burchard keep? He writes:

"The 'exotics' I myself have kept at one time or another include a wolf, coatis, corvids large and small, raptors from sparrowhawk and merlin up to and including Gyrfalcon, Goshawk and Golden Eagle (the latter quite capable of killing someone, especially a child), boa constrictors up to 12 feet, crocodiles, large monitor lizards, nearly all large North American nonvenomous snakes, African venomous snakes including Gaboon viper, forest cobra, spitting cobra, saw-scaled viper, green mamba, mole viper and many others, Black Widow spiders (as a 12 year old schoolboy), a Long-tailed Weasel (trapped in the act of massacring my homing pigeons, and then tamed), any number of young skunks, dozens of species of tropical fishes, many kinds of ants ... well, you get the idea. Beyond that I have interacted at more or less length with "exotics" owned by others or by our Departmental zoo, including Lowland Gorillas, chimpanzees, various monkeys, a half grown lion, a 19 foot Rock Python, etc. etc.

"Among the more dangerous "wildlife" I have dealt with are the fighting bulls of Spain - beautiful, magnificent animals but to be treated with great respect, especially the cows with young calves (I worked for the better part of a year on a ranch in Spain that bred fighting bulls). The trouble with banning bullfighting is that it would mean the extinction of the most wonderful cattle in the world. There's a book by Robert Vavra. Try to find it, it's amazing.

"All risk is relative (you can break your neck tripping over a small dog underfoot, without any aggression at all on the animal's part) and the key factor determining the acceptability of keeping such animals must be whether their management is conducted with a degree of knowledge and responsibility commensurate with the risks of the particular species and situation."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although I will agree with the "Antis" that there is a SERIOUS problem with the "exotic" animal business, and much abuse and cruelty and stupidity with people aquiring critters they have no knowledge or business acquiring, I would not OUTLAW the practice, but liscence it, like with falconry. And judge each case INDIVIDUALLY--if people are giving proper care to whatever animal they have, let them be! This is NOT a P. C. view for a zookeeper in an AZA accredited zoo to have--I get lamblasted for this opinion all the time by co-workers! Yet the TRUTH is, many private individuals give better lives and care to "exotics" than professional organizations do!. If people ARE being neglectful/cruel/ abusive/stupid--by all means confiscate and fine the crap out of them! If not, leave well enough alone! Why is that such a difficult concept? Why does it have to be all or nothing?....L.B.