Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Illegal Pet Trade

The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary is a permanent home, a place of refuge, for our exotic animals. A majority of these animals have been abused, abandoned, neglected, confiscated, or previously owned by individuals unwilling or unable to provide for these animals. Fortunately, these animals are lucky to have a happy ending at IEAS where they are well fed and properly cared for. However, that is not the case for many exotic animals.

Shauna, our 23-year-old lioness, was once an illegal pet living in a backyard of a suburban home.

In the United States, regulation of private ownership of exotic animals, including felines, wolves, bears, reptiles, and non-human primates, is determined by each state. This allows for loopholes and oversight when owning exotics. In Texas, owners must obtain a license to possess an exotic animal. While breeding, selling and transporting exotic animals is technically legal on a federal level, many of the animals are brought to the U.S. illegally. Every year, thousands of animals are entering the exotic pet trade. These animals are often captured from their native habitat and smuggled in or legally imported.

Sunshine was bought from a safari park in Springfield, MO. His owner was in violation of the law and Sunshine was confiscated.   
Wildlife trafficking is estimated to be a $19 billion per year global business, which is just behind illegal trafficking of drugs, humans, and firearms. This is a huge problem with little consequences. If a person is caught illegally transporting animals into the United States on a first offense, it is possible that their consequence won’t result in jail time. On the contrary, if that same person was caught illegally transporting drugs into the country, on their first offense they may get a maximum of 40 years.

Prince and Princess were found in a puppy mill. We believe they were trying to illegally breed them for the illegal wildlife trade.
The illegal wildlife trade is quickly escalating into a crisis that is directly threatening the survival of many species in the wild, including but not limited to, tigers, leopards, and elephants. At this point, you may be wondering what you can do to help! Get involved! You could start locally at the IEAS by volunteering or donating to help provide a better life for our animals. There are also many other organizations whose focus is to help save endangered animals and put a stop to this illegal trafficking, including Stop Wildlife Crime and World Wildlife Fund.

Nahla was once a pet and escaped after a flood. Her owner was in violation of city ordinance for having a "dangerous animals" within city limits.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The End...Or The Beginning!

Well, it’s about that time again…What time you might ask? The time for another group of IEAS interns to say goodbye! Over the past 3 months we have gotten to know each other very well, some might even say a little too well. We have all learned each other’s quirks. We know how to motivate each other, especially after a hard day’s work. We even know how to keep each other’s spirits up when morale is low. These past three months we have worked as a team and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of interns to work with. Each of us has benefited from this internship in different ways and we are now one step closer to reaching our career goals. Let’s take a look at where each of us is going next!

The 2016 spring interns! (From left to right: Maggie, Sarah, Erin, Bailey, Brenna, and Nathan.)

I’ll start with myself…my name is Erin and I have been interning at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary for the past 6 months. When I graduated from college, I realized that my passion lies in animal care, so I've done various internships to get experience in this field. I recently accepted a small carnivore/primate keeper position at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Fort Wayne, IN. This will be my first actual job as a keeper and I absolutely cannot wait to start on this new journey!

Me (Erin) preparing our bear cub diets.

Maggie was another 6 month intern with me (believe it or not, we were roommates, woot woot!!!). She has decided to continue to assist here at the Sanctuary, right here in Boyd, TX! Maggie is from around the area, so when our new batch of interns gets here, she will be commuting from home. However, she will be instrumental in teaching these newbies the ropes and looks forward to taking this leadership role!

Maggie checking the toolbox for one of our vehicles.

Now for our three month interns! Let’s start with Brenna. Brenna was offered an internship at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, FL. Here she will not only be involved in the animal care of various native Florida wildlife, but she also gets to assist in the rehabilitation and release of these beautiful animals! When she was offered this position, she was told that she will be spending a lot of time in the nursery upon her arrival as it is baby season. She will definitely be spending the beginning of her internship out right if I do say so myself!

Brenna preparing the diets for our white-nosed coati's.

Bailey was another three month intern at the Sanctuary! She will be heading to Cimarron, NM to work at the Philmont Scout Ranch, which is the Boy Scouts of America’s largest national High Adventure Base. There is a lot to do here including hiking, camping, and visiting various museums, but Bailey will be a program counselor. As a program counselor, she gets to pretend she is a member of the old Abreau family and explain to others what it's like to live in the 1800's. However, she is most excited about getting to take care of the farm animals!

Bailey fixing one of our pesky sprayers!

Sarah was yet another three month intern at IEAS. Ever since she got her first cat, Sarah knew she wanted to be a vet and has continued to pursue her dream! Throughout her internship, she was able to observe various veterinary procedures that have provided her with very valuable experience and knowledge that will assist her in the path to becoming an exotic veterinarian. With that being said, Sarah is is currently working on her vet school application! In the meantime, she will be heading back home to Pullman, WA where she will spend some quality time with family and friends, volunteering at local vet clinics and humane societies, and squeezing in as many backpacking adventures as she possibly can! 

Sarah collecting the metal buckets to put in our vehicles.

Last, but not least, we have Nathan! Nathan is the only intern who is staying on for the six month animal care internship at the Sanctuary. As a six month intern, he will gain more responsibilities and assist in training the new interns when they arrive as well. Between Nathan and Maggie, the new interns have two spectacular role models and are definitely in good hands!

Nathan sorting out bear meat.

Well, I hope you enjoyed meeting our interns and learning about their future plans! I myself can’t wait to see what the future has in store for all of us! If you have any interest in interning at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, just visit our website at and start your application today!