Saturday, January 7, 2012

Florida's Palm Beach Zoo to Host First Annual Pet Amnesty Day

A kinkajou being held by a Palm Beach Zoo representative during the press conference of its First Annual Pet Amnesty Day

It has been recently reported that Florida's Palm Beach Zoo will be hosting the county's first Pet Amnesty Day on January 14th at the West Palm Beach Garden Club. The purpose of this event is to urge the public to stick with more tradtional pets like cats and dogs, and refrain from releasing exotic pets into Florida's native wild lands. Instead, they will be invited down to this event to surrender non-native animals to individuals who will care for them and guarantee they will not be released into the wild. According to Lisa Jameson, an invasive species biologist with the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, exotic pets are a major threat to the loss of natural diversity all around the world. She further added how ball pythons, one of the most popular exotic pets, are being released into the Everglades and competing with the native wildlife. One of the region's endemic species, the endangered cotton rat, has fallen prey to this alien species. In addition to that, native snakes such as rattlesnakes are being out-competed as hundreds of thousands of pythons have made the Everglades their home. Jameson also stated that zoo representatives and wildlife organizations are working on a legislation to prevent any new exotic species from entering the country, primarily constricting snakes.
This Argentine black and white tegu is one of several exotic pets invading Florida's native wild lands.

I'm very happy and proud to see what the representatives of the Palm Beach Zoo are doing in collaboration with wildlife organizations, in order to curb the flow of exotic pets onto Florida's wild lands. In addition to that, they are also working on a legislation to prevent any more such alien species from being secretly brought into the U.S. I also feel that the federal government of the United States should consider this matter seriously. Florida, which is renowned for its tropical image as a paradise on earth, was once a major hub for the illegal trafficking of narcotics with drugs coming from the Caribbean and South America. But now, the Sunshine State is being overrun by invasive species as a result of the pet trade. Because of this lucrative business, residents all over the Sunshine State are keeping such animals as pets and carelessly releasing them out in the wilderness where they take over the entire ecosystem. Some like pythons have gained notoriety for killing cats, dogs, and even small children as a result of being kept as family pets in the sun-drenched suburbs. In addition to terrestrial animals, aquatic animals have also been part of the pet trade. The lionfish, in particular, has established itself as an invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean since the mid-1990s. This is why it is crucial for the U.S to take measures in an effort to minimize the pet trade from bringing in exotic wildlife from overseas in different continents.

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