Author Topic: Does anyone work with Animals for a living?  (Read 347 times)

Keuerleber Family

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Does anyone work with Animals for a living?
« Topic Start: July 07, 2016, 08:49:08 PM »
Does anyone work with Animals for a living or have a hobby around animals non-hunting wise (Unless you hunt invasive species, then I'm down.) I'd love to see people share photos of pets, rescues and other things related to animals. Hell, if you want to show me pictures of your tortoises, show them.

I've been working on a project for the past 1 1/2 year but have experience in the keeping of these animals that spans over 23 years. I work with endangered tortoises aside from my job, and I'm currently in a position to expand to an actual business. Now most people don't know what's happening in the pet industry when it comes to tortoises, but that's kind of the problem. I raise by far the most popular tortoise worldwide, that being the Russian Tortoise AKA the Horsfields Tortoise. It is in huge demand because of their friendly and personable nature but what makes them so marketable is their size. They don't grow bigger than 10 inches in most cases, most don't get past 7 inches. Considering that, anyone from a farmer with great tracks of land to an 18 year old renting out a shed as a room could fit one of these guys in a 4x6 terrarium and it could live comfortably and happily. So with this in mind the demand is enormous, but the supply is mostly wild caught, I believe the estimate is 96% of the market is wild caught. These animals are not wide spread and their range is Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and a small portion of Eastern China. Americans are devestating the Uzbek population, and China is doing quick work of the rest. Think about it, you're in war torn Afghanistan and if you're lucky, you have a job that pays $2 a day. So if someone from China approached you and said "Hey, I'll give you $5 for every Tortoise you find." Wouldn't you go out and collect as many as you can? I sure would. This is in no way a sustainable supply, yet another natural resource being destroyed by human greed.

Now let me explain something else, this is one species of Tortoise. This practice of wild collection spans across all species to a varying degree, even into the turtles, terrapins and yes, sea turtles. China loves to eat turtles, and the criminal syndicates are sending in smugglers into Europe, Africa and the USA to steal their wildlife. This isn't something that is just happening in poor countries, its a world wide crisis. So let me blow your mind right now. Roughly 335 Tortoises, Turtles, Terrapins, and Sea Turtles in the World. 265 are estimated to be extinct in 20 years. As of 2016 I've watched one species be declared extinct entirely with the exception of 3 infertile relics that will soon pass, one other species has been declared functionally extinct in the wild and two new species got discovered but were also found to be on the verge of extinction. Let me break your heart now, back in the 1990s we had roughly 2500 species of plants going extinct and 2500 species of animals going extinct. The numbers today are 4500 plants and 4500 animals. Scientists are loudly beginning to say in unison that we've entered the 6th mass extinction. Don't get me wrong, there is always a natural background extinction happening, but this being accelerated by us. When the bottom of the ecosystem begins to die out I.E. Tortoises, the rest follow suit.

You might be saying, how can a Tortoise be so important to an ecosystem? Tortoises naturally eat dandelions, which is considered an invasive species. Dandelions in large numbers can kill grasses and other plants that grow naturally in an ecosystem. The Tortoises would rather eat the dandelion over the native plant by default, so even though they still eat native plants, its at a smaller rate. Usually more attracted to the seed producing fruit or bud than the leaves. The native plant's seeds can survive in the Tortoises gut, and then when it passes, it has fertilizer and it has spread to a new location thanks to the traveling nature of the Tortoise. Now the Dandelion, from my experience as a keeper does not survive it's journey through the gut. Actually from my experience no invasive weed has survived the tortoises gut. I get pumpkin sprouts, fig sprouts, and a few other plants that survive and eventually grow in their enclosure simply do to this process. So take away the tortoise, the invasive weeds will choke out natural grasses and plants, which in turn threatens any herbivore that can't digest the invasive plants, killing them off. Now the Herbivores that are managing to eat the invasive species have more pressure on them due to carnivores and their former competition dying out, so they in turn start to struggle and eventually go. Now what do the carnivores turn to? Livestock, and if anyone knows the story of the American Wolf you'll really understand what I mean by this.

With all that said, there are things we can do to help on all levels. If you want a pet Tortoise, just make sure you're getting a captive bred animal. In fact, with Reptiles, always ask if they're captive bred, by doing that, you help conservation efforts around the world in probably the single most important way. What I'm doing personally is adding to the captive breeding supply and using the profits to expand into more species that are in need of conservation. I'm in the process of looking for land to move my breeding facility, I'll eventually move into raising various Iguanas, Monitors and Amphibians. Some small mammals too, nothing that could kill me like a tiger or bear. And only species that are in need of conservation. I have an IG account documenting my journey, if people are interested I could post the link to it. It's mostly about the Tortoises, but occasionally pictures of zoos and wildlife parks I go to and animals I rescue.

So that's how I work with animals and I'm very curious if anyone else is into working with animals, on any level.