Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Disneyfication of Exotic Animals

Ive recently started breeding some awesome exotic animals and I find myself on the receiving end of the Disneyfication of these animals a little too often.

For my readers that dont know what the Disneyfication of animals is, its basically a person  who confuses expectations with reality. The expectations are normally crafted from movies like the Lion King rather than any type of reality.



Ill give you an example of what I am talking about. The other day myself and a group of nature lovers on a Facebook were busy admiring some beautiful exotic animals. Specifically we were talking about breeding a beautiful but unfortunately named species of Madagascar Gecko (It is called a Satanic Leaf Gecko) Uroplatus phantasticus.


These animals are originally from Madagascar and now bred all over the world. Since there is a demand for them they will never go extinct. Even if the oceans rise due to global warming.... these beautiful animals will continue survive thanks to loving breeders who care and breed them.

So there we are discussing breeding these little marvels when one of those people I was referring to decided to interject her opinion. 



As you can see, we are given some pretty horrible advice by and otherwise well meaning human being. Let me break down what she said and why her views are divorced from reality.

1) She refers to an incident at OR Tambo where she says "smuggled" animals were left to die. This is not actually true. There was actually no smuggling taking place.

In fact, just about every forum and social media network in the exotic animals trade featured this story and almost all of us were completely gutted by the news. It turns out that due to mismanagement of a precious cargo by transportation staff, the animals were left too long without care and started dying. A horrible event to have happen, but not one caused by exotic animal traders. 

2) Jennifer then incorrectly refers to the exotic animal trade as a "trend". She does not realize that this trade is older than the existence of domestic dogs and cats. People throughout history have loved and cared for all types of animals. Long before they domesticated cats and dogs. 

3) Jennifer then blames the exotic animal trade for the devastation of wild life. Which again is so false and misleading. Normal people are responsible for the devastation of wild life. The dwindling numbers have less to do with the exotic animal trade and more to do with the expansion of leafy suburbs so that humans can drive their gas guzzling, CO2 causing SUV`s around. Its the loss of habitat that is hurting wild life so much. As human expansions continue, so do the habitats of many animals decrease.

 In breeder clubs we often get involved in captive breeding programs so that we can try release some sensitive animals back into the wild. However, we have some major problems with releasing some of these animals back into the wild as their habitats are no longer there. You often find humans have just cleared their area to build another coffee shop. 

4) Jennifer finishes off by telling us that we should get a domesticated exotic cat or dog (as they are not indigenous to our area). This is not good advice. I have two (spayed) cats and I personally know what blood thirsty little murderers they are. I love them to bits, I am however completely aware of the massive impact they have on our environment. They are well fed animals and do not kill the local animals for food... they kill the local animals for their own entertainment. I dont know how many dead geckos, small mammals and birds my cats have killed. 

This brings me back to the cute little blighter that started this whole conversation off. Uroplatus phantasticus. When these animals are threatened with extinction in the wild, it won't be because of the exotic animal trade. It will be because of a lack of habitat as human suburbs expand on their territory. and the devastation of the remaining indigenous animals by exotic animals like cats. 

Luckily they will not go extinct as there will always be private breeders who have a great passion and love for these animals that will ensure their long term survival.

One only wishes someone had privately bred the Dodo before cats introduced by sailors destroyed the local population and drove them to extinction. 




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