Monday, January 11, 2010

Seizing the Earth

(Green Iguana, Guatemala) 


A friend of mine contacted
me recently about this story that appeared in the Star-Telegram on  January 6, 2010:

The Dec. 15 seizure of 27,000 animals from U.S. Global
Exotics in Arlington — and the seven days of municipal court testimony as a
judge decided whether the company or its owners could regain custody of them —
must have startled many people who were not yet aware of the exotic animal

The thought of 27,000 animals in one private building is
shocking enough.

The episode also showed a well-tuned, thoughtful and
balanced court process in Arlington as the city first took control of the
animals after receiving evidence of mistreatment and then carefully and
extensively followed state law to protect the owners’ rights. Municipal Judge
Michael Smith ruled Tuesday that there was indeed ample — even abundant — cause
to terminate those rights and turn the animals over to the city for proper

Conditions at U.S. Global Exotics, as described in
Smith’s ruling, were deplorable

(full article:

this same day I heard on National Public Radio a report that there is  not one place on earth that is not seeing
alarming declines of numbers of animals, all except for the human animal,
although in pockets their numbers decline as well due to famine, genocide,
war,  and disease. 

humans are seizing the diversity around us as earth goes through what might herald
the a death seizure of earth.  There is a
hurt place in me that wants to cry, "I told you so" after all my
years in the Exotic Bird Trade and then front line conservation in Latin
America.  But then I would only be yelling
at myself, cager of birds and veterinarian of exotic species.

is with some relief that the United States passed the Wild Bird Conservation
Act in 1994 that ended the wild bird trade into the United States (well,
mostly).  Isn't it time we seized the
initiative and did this for all species? 
Perhaps we don't do so because we are not aware of the magnitude of
suffering and loss, and perhaps it is just too difficult to face the reality of
what we do to this earth and her beings, especially when we see no clear way to
make a difference, to do good in the wake of such tragic loss.

don't have any solutions that can guarantee that hearts aching with pain or the
earth quaking with devastation will end, or can end.  I only know this.

beauty within we Great Apes is a marvel, and we are not separate from life. We
are neither less nor more than other species, so the harm we do is who we
are.  But underneath there is a greater
truth, we are not alone and hence we evolved out of the beauty that is our web
of life to care compassionately for those we understand, and hence come to
love.  I have ultimate faith that we as a
species are capable of so much more than the terrible handling of exotic
animals in the animal trade.   If we could just see our beauty, understand
one another and other species, then out of that empathetic embrace, we would
seize the day, and not capture the beauty that was born in freedom and lives in
our hearts.

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