So I've been really quiet lately because I seem to be spending more and more time at the zoo these days! First of all some relatives came out from the UK to visit family, and I organised a special tour for my uncle. He's blind, so most activities are really bornig for him, but fortunately I got my friend Elaine, who works at the zoo, to arrange for him to touch a whole bunch of animals, to get an idea of what the look like. She did an incredible job, and it was very special to see how touched he was to realise that monkeys have hands!
This got me involved at the zoo again (Luke and I have semi-lived there for about 4 years now, including Luke's masters being based on zoo animals), as I hadn't spent too much time there recently with fieldwork and work and everything else. There are curretly two baby monkeys being hand-reared, so I started spening lots of time looking after them to give Althea (their 'mom') some time to get her other work done. Then, about 10 days ago, a whole bunch of animals from Madagascar were confiscated from the airport and put into quarantine at the zoo. By a whole bunch I mean several hundred! It was insane, the zoo wasn't really equipped to handle so many animals in a wuarantine that was designed for the occasional animal being sold or bought or exchanged, and the people who work there don't have any experience with Madagascan animals so trying to figure out husbandry for several hundred animals ni pretty bad condition was really really hard work! On top of it all they had to contend with me jumping up and down begging to be allowed to help! Fortunately (for my sake) they let me help out, but this quickly became a large part of my day. Feeding 600 animals takes a long time, and I try to help as much as possible so that the vets have time to treat the sick ones.
It's been really awesome to see some of the most stunning animals in the world. I've fallen in love with the little tree frogs, the big tomato frogs, the big day geckos (and the small day geckos) the huge panther chameleons and all the other incredible animal there. But at the same time I would dearly lovfe to remove the kneecaps of everyone involved in taking these animals out of their natural habitat, packing them in tiny little boxes and sending them voerseas to be sold as pets. It makes me so angry. I understand why people would want these animals as pets, they're very cool. But to take them away from where they should be... I just don't get it.
A long time ago I made a decision to never buy an animal that wasn't bred in captivity. Before that I decided to never ever buy an animal from a petshop. This was even before I refused a job at a petshop that sold animals. My point is, yes, that chameleon in the petshop looks really cool. But do you really want a pet that has been through so much? An animal that makes it to a petshop is probably among the 20 or so percent that survived a trip in horrendous conditions. I don't understand people. Really, animals are way cooler!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008