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INTRODUCTION

From the capture to prison
The animals you see behind the bars of the zoos, in the circus shows, sleeping in pet shops or swimming in aquariums do not belong to the man-made captive species, but are captured in their own natural environment.

The capture methods are very violent and cruel, and often involve killing the parents or other member of the group of a young individual while they try to defend their offspring.

The traffickers profit from the poverty of the locals and convince them for a few dollars to catch and give them animals, most of the times endangered ones.

After being captured the animals are put into cages for days, without water or food, until they reach the western merchants.
Due to the stress, denutrition and aggressive behaviours caused by overcrowded cages, only 10 to 50% of the animals arrive alive to destination. Many animals don't even survive to the capture and to the time just after that.

Once arrived at destination animals have to face new climatic conditions and an inadequate nutrition. The stress is so severe that many animals, particularly in circus and zoos, let themselves die.

Fish from south American rivers are sorted out in Bogotà and Florida. They are left without food for weeks. Loaded on an aeroplane in pressurised bags, only 5% gets to destination.

Some fish are fished in tropical seas using faked coral reefs. Less than a half arrive alive to European aquariums.

The legal and illegal traffic
How do animals get to Europe? Parrots are captured in Amazonian forests, stop in the States before getting to Europe, where they go through some sorting centres like Holland. Iguanas from the farms in central America travel to the Sates, where they attend a 3 days quarantine, stuffed with antibiotics.
The exotic animal boom also lives on a traffic run by organised criminality. It's a millions of Euro business, just behind the drug and weapon traffic. You can find illegally imported animals with faked documents in markets or by certain agencies. In order to make a regular sale the animal needs to be delivered together with a particular certificate called CITES, and a receipt. The CITES can be falsified or it can belong to a dead animal.
There are then animals which cannot be sold, like some small monkeys, because of the Ebola virus. If they are found by the authorities they end up in primate recovering centres or in zoos, and like the other sequestred exotic animals, they cannot go back to the wild because there isn't money enough. Another example is the Trachemys-case, the red striped terrapins that threaten the European ones by colonising their territory. The import had been prohibited by law, but they still come to Europe going through Holland.

The animal products market
Beside the live animal commerce, there also is a flourishing market of skin, horns, tusks, claws, internal organs extracts (like gland extracts) and much more. Combs, jewels, knick-knacks made of turtle carapace, elephant's tusks, zebra's and leopard skin, shark tooth, shells, seastars and seahorses, ivory things, are just few examples of a stupid fashion made with animal body parts.Capture and killing methods are particularly cruel since what counts in this market it's just a part of the animal and not the alive being. It's about careless poachers that have little time and cannot always wait until the animal is dead before skinning it or taking the parts that they need.
The last data from KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) reveal that local poaching is increasing with a rhythm of 5% yearly. An average of an elephant every hour is killed for the ivory of its tusks.
The products coming from protected species (leopard, turtle, ocelot, elephant, rhino) cannot be legally imported, unless it's possible to prove that they come from authorised breeding farms.

Human vanity reaches the extent of buying dried monkeys hands or heads to use them as knick-knacks, in order to satisfy the greed of "unique and exotic objects".


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