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A VIEW OF THE IHS SYMPOSIUM - slight rant


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Posted by Russ Gurley on November 17, 1998 at 20:35:44:

As a reptile keeper and breeder for many years, I looked
forward to attending the IHS Symposium in San Antonio
a few years ago. It had been about five years since I'd
been to an IHS meeting and so I looked forward to attending
this one that was relatively near where I lived.

I will tell you unequivocally that this was one of my
worst experiences as a reptile breeder. The IHS and most
of its speakers and supporters are anti-captive breeding by
private hobbyists. I do not make this statement lightly.
You will find that the IHS is made up of a lot of zoos,
researchers, and conservationists who are against captive
breeding by private keepers.

Some famous lines I overheard or was slapped in the face
with at this IHS include:

-captive breeders are packaging a product for the pet
trade . . . they ought to just seal them in plastic
and put them on the shelf . . . DICK Ross (The same guy
who wrote the book teaching herpers how to breed pythons
and boas!!)

-private individuals should not be allowed to keep reptiles
- it should be left up to zoos. Otherwise, it will some day
screw up the gene pool when we go to search for more
breeders for our programs (at the zoos). . .

Rather than bring herpers across the country and world
together, I strongly feel that the IHS helps to keep a
wedge between the captive breeders, zoos, and the researchers.

Think of what could happen in the U.S. if private
breeders and zoos worked together. Why don't they?
Realistically ask yourself - Why don't privates and
zoos work together? If our goals are really to save
species, enhance genetic diversity, and really enjoy
our relationships with our animals, why won't zoos
cooperate with us?

The goal of my organization and of so many others now is
to focus on captive breeding. Not necessarily for commercial
reasons, but out of a genuine love of the animals and
the thrill of seeing new babies arriving. We are bombarded
with words like "endangered, threatened, and critical",
but the rift grows larger and cooperative ventures are
few.

You will hear some excellent talks at the IHS and you
will find a small group of the best captive breeders in the U.S.
there - but, don't have the misconception that you will
find support for your work with captive breeding. In
fact, you may come away feeling bitter and angry at the
arrogance and ignorance of well-known individuals and
institutions.

Russ Gurley
Oklahoma City


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