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RE: My take

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Posted by: twilightfade212 at Sat May 28 00:55:11 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by twilightfade212 ]  

My opinion is coming from someone who has worked at a zoo, for an importer and is currently involved with academic herp research. All the while, I have maintained my growing herp collection and frequented the Daytona show. I am in this hobby until I die.

And to let you know where I am, I am not against importation (though we need to completely change how we handle this) or a wild animal rights person. I feel if you want to own something and can properly care for it, you should be able to do so. I SUPPORT the private hobbyist. This is what this hobby needs to resort to. Not farms cranking out animals you and me, producing animals we are interested in and give daily care to. Not someone who throws lettuce into a bin with 150 animals or have workers doing the work, leaving them in disconnect with the animals.

I am against the exploitation of wildlife, which is what the characters in the book represent.

First, I did not find this book to put down the herp community. Aside from the references of pony-tails and tattoos, nothing that calls us out. But hey, it takes a special kind, and I'm one of them. I didn't find this book to have an Animal Rights agenda, either. I don't know where people got that idea. Everyone is just so on the defence about the new laws we are facing that limit our hobby that anything that doesn't paint a pretty picture for reptiles is condemned from the beginning.

Second, in the link posted earlier in this thread, the author brings up a good point that many people are complaining that the book is full of lies, but fail to point of examples. I have looked at the reviews and atleast haven't found any mention of what info in the book wasn't true.

Before I read this book, I heard a lot of fuss about Crutchfield. Having just finished it, the fanfare I have heard is suprising considering he only makes up a modest part of this book. Those sticking up for "Tom Terrific, the hero" (in the book) seem to be Tom, close friends or employees of his and maybe a few people just going with the flow.

REMEMBER PEOPLE, this guy is now trying to continue making a living by selling reptiles to everyone. You can not expect him to embrace this book, which paints a less than flattering picture of his past as a SMUGGLER of ENDANGERED ANIMALS.

(Before I go on, the book redeemed Tom a few times, expressing his admiration for a butterfly, disgust at someone throwing rocks at a bob cat and not stooping to some of the business practices embraced by Sickly Reptiles, but.......)

With my work for importers, I have seen that when importers look at an animal, they don't see it's unique morphology, it's interesting natural history or impressive features about the animal or it's behavior, they see dollar signs. When an animal is encountered in the field, their thoughts aren't "Look at this!", it's "I could get $50 for this." Crutchfield may like the animals, but in the end it's all about the money. Yes, he is running a business, but this is an unhealthy attitude toward wild, exploited species.

Crutchfield is not the victim in this case. Maybe he has changed for the better, but his past is still there and what is at issue. We all care for animals, but when that fascination is overcome with greed, you get the characters in this book. Crutchfield got greedy and then became associated with Anson Wong, knowingly traded in illegal species and did whatever he could to make a dollar.

You may argue that "these animals will just get eaten." While they may be comsumed, they are not down and out (the COMMERCIALIZATION of "bush meat" world-wide is a totally seperate issue which will lead to extinction). If Tom was able to go to Madagascar and bring back all the radiata he wanted, he would bring back every single specimen he could find. He would just be going around picking up piles of money. He would not stop to think about the need for the survival of the species and leave some behind to sustain the population, every one would be on it's way back to the US. Causing local or total extinctions wouldn't matter to him and people like him, they want to make the money, because if they don't someone else will.

Madagascar species are being vaccuumed from the country. In Asia, there are so many illegal radiata in the trade that animal dealers can't even get ride of them, something as prized as a radiata! Chelondina mccordi is another example. The species because commercially extinct at the hands of poachers a few years after the species was described.)

We all care for the species in our possession. We would like to be able to have our little breeding groups at home, but not at the expense of wild populations. These characters would rather see these species in their cages in their backyard than knowing they are roaming around in the wild. (Ya, Crutchfield has done something for this effort and thrown some money around, but that's peas and carrots with him grossing a million or two. And it's the LEAST he could do for the damage he's caused.)

I could go on more, but at the bottom of everything, here we see people who are disconnected from the animals we love. They see piles of hundreds in bins and cages, not the animals we appreciate. They will exploit whatever they can to ensure they are on top and not missing out on any profits.

To those uncertain about this book, read it. It is a history of the beginning of a part of herpetoculture and it is very interesting. It is not a writing that is against our industry but against those who exploit wildlife in the name of profit. You do not have to stand up for Crutchfield and the other characters in this book because you are not them! Make your own way and leave guys like that behind in the past.


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