The pet shop seemed more like a pawn store, a place where disenchanted caretakers unloaded their birds for quick cash. During my visit, abandoned birds clamored for attention or followed me [Monica Engebretson] curiously with their eyes — except for a pair of Amazon parrots who sat motionless, side-by-side, with the most expressionless eyes I have ever seen in another living creature.
Thousands of captive wild animals — elephants, lions, tigers, ocelots, servals, wolves, bears, alligators, venomous snakes, monkeys and other nonhuman primates, and more — are privately held, displayed at roadside zoos and menageries, and used in traveling circuses all across the country.
The sale, possession, and use of captive wild animals is regulated by a patchwork of federal, state, and local laws that generally vary by community and by animal. What results is very little protection under the law. These animals need our help! We must pursue legislation on all levels to ensure stronger protections.
When Miami airport inspectors asked a man arriving from Havana, Cuba to raise his pants legs, they were surprised to find 44 birds strapped to his legs. The man had denied he was bringing any wildlife into the United States. He was released the next day on $50,000 bond after being charged with lying on a customs declaration form.
For two weeks last November, the fate of millions of living creatures hung in the balance.
During that period, the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) met in Chile to debate the most pressing trade issues affecting animals and plants.
In the Bible, the book of Leviticus describes a horrific custom that involved sacrificing two goats to atone for the sins of the community. On the appointed day, one of the animals was slaughtered in the temple; the other, bedecked with a red ribbon to symbolize the people’s wrongs, was abandoned in the desert to die. British artist William Holman Hunt’s famous 1854 painting, “Scapegoat,” shows a dying goat, wearing the pretty ribbon, staggering beneath a blazing desert sun while surrounded by inhospitable salt pans and the bones and carcasses of other animals.
You are walking down the street. Suddenly two thugs grab you and pull you into an alley. One points a gun at you while the other punches you in the solar plexus. You go down, helpless, momentarily breathless and very frightened. You feel your wallet or purse being taken, and see it rifled through for money and credit cards. You look up and through a blur of tears find yourself staring into a revolver’s muzzle. You see the finger on the trigger squeeze.