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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Green Sea Turtles Die on Farm – Do Meat-Trade Turtles Aid Conservation?

Green Sea TurtleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  An accident that caused the deaths of 299 endangered Green Turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm has raised concerns about the facility’s operation. The incident brought other issues to my mind as well.  I was first inspired by the legendary herpetologist Archie Carr, and have since been involved in several field studies of Green, Leatherback and other marine turtles (please see article below).  I see the value in organizations such as Cayman Turtle Farm, which raises turtles for the food market while also racking up important “firsts” in breeding and research.  However, many disagree with me.  What’s your opinion?  Any comments you may wish to post below would be much appreciated.

Conservation through Commercialization

Whatever your personal feelings concerning the consumption of turtles or other animals may be, it is clear that commercial farming can play a role in Chinese Softshellconservation. The classic US example is the American Alligator.  Legal protections helped, of course, but large scale breeding for the meat and hide trade made a huge difference in that species’ future.  Read More »

Green Anaconda Relatives – Bolivian, Dark-Spotted and Yellow Anacondas

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The massive Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) is one of the world’s best-known snakes.  I had the good fortune of participating in the first long-term study of this species in the wild (please see this article), and zoos have kept and bred them for decades.  But its relatives, despite being large, impressive creatures, have not been well studied.  One, the Bolivian Anaconda (E. beniensis), was only described in 2002, and its natural history remains shrouded in mystery; we know only a bit more about the Dark-Spotted Anaconda (E. deschauenseei).  The Yellow Anaconda (E. notaeus) regularly appears in zoos and the pet trade, but field studies are lacking.

Dark-Spotted or De Schauensee’s Anaconda, Eunectes deschauenseei

Although described as a distinct species back in 1936, the habits of the Dark-Spotted Anaconda remain unstudied, and it rarely appears in public collections.  While working with Green Anacondas in Venezuela, I tried to arrange a side trip to an area where they were reported to live, but was unable to arrange it.  A review of the acquisition records at the Bronx Zoo, where I worked for many years, revealed that several specimens were believed to be this species, but none were definitely identified as such.  I recently poked around among stored Green Anacondas in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History (courtesy of a colleague there) and hope to return to check on Dark-Spotted Anacondas.  Although widely separated in range from the Yellow Anaconda, many taxonomists hold that the two are closely related. Read More »

Venomous Snakebites – My Experiences and Notes on Well-Known Victims

Indian CobraHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  TV personality Mark O’Shea’s recent King Cobra bite brought to mind the many experiences I’ve had as a snakebite responder for the Bronx Zoo.  Mr. O’Shea survived, but venomous snakes claim a surprising number of lives worldwide (4.5 million bites, possibly 100,000 deaths; please see article below).  Some bites, as you’ll see, occur in a most unlikely place –New York City!  As is fitting for my fair city, few were “routine” – guns, odd characters, suicides, and drug dealers all made appearances. 

Zoos and Snakebite Emergencies

The Bronx Zoo cooperates with health authorities in the treatment of venomous snakebites.  Antivenin is typically stored at the zoo, not in hospitals.  A doctor called upon to treat a bite might not be able to identify the snake involved, and hence would be unable to administer the correct antivenin.  In the event of a bite, Bronx Zoo reptile keepers and other staff are summoned by zoo security, a hospital, or the NYPD. Usually, NYPD transports us to the hospital. Read More »

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