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Posted by John Hollister on May 28, 1999 at 15:48:21:
In Reply to: A VIEW OF THE IHS SYMPOSIUM - slight rant posted by Russ Gurley on November 17, 1998 at 20:35:44:
I can understand your viewpoint. In the early 70's, when I first moved to Texas, I went by several of the Universities to chat with the herpers there. The general attitude at that time seemed to be that it was not wrong for them to have 2,000 subocs in barrels of formalin, same for other species, even though the other universities already had similar numbers of snakes, but that anyone who took snakes out of the wild for private propogation and enjoyment was slime.
The avocational herpers and breeders have a vast store of knowledge which, although often anectodal and not scientifically backed, can be of use to academics, zoos and government biologists. It is a shame that there is not a better rapport between the groups.
While much of the initial work on sexing, breeding, husbandry was done by zoos, the herpetocultural community has, in recent years, done a lot of good work. The adversarial attitude puzzles me. I can only think that the political atmosphere in many zoos, universities and governmental agencies makes protecting their little niches more important than gaining knowledge, protecting the animals, cutting down on importation through captive breeding, etc.
Except for those snakes which I have personally collected, I don't know the lineage of any of my snakes, other than knowing from whom they were purchased. I would love to have zoo stock on some species, and would be willing to keep a studbook on them, but the chances of a small-time hobbyist getting in with the zoos is very slim, as is the chance that they would want any further data or stock from me once the animals hit the private sector.
Although things have improved a bit over the past quarter century, there still isn't much love of the hobbyists by everyone else.