2017 Scholarship Results | Top 3 Submitted Articles
#1. Taylor Nichole Longmire (Winner)
Bunn High School
#2. Jesus Gomez
Unofficial Transcript & Grades
#3. Veronica Martin
Washington State University
Total Number of Submitted Articles: 19
#1. Why you should never own an Exotic Pet
By Taylor Longmire
I’ve always dreamed of having a pet monkey. One that hugged me, smiled, drank from a bottle, wore an adorable little diaper and held my hand as we walked. He would be the perfect pet! He would in fact, be my best friend. But, it was just a dream. Much like the fairy tales we grew up reading; it’s a fantasy, not reality. Exotic pets are far from the idealistic illusion we create in our minds. They are wild, instinctive and unpredictable. That simple dream could very quickly turn into a terrible nightmare in a split second when owing an exotic pet.
I was quite shocked to learn that “according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, second only to drugs and weapons on the black market.” Apparently there are a lot of other people who had the same dream I did as a kid and now own an exotic pet. I’m sure they have good intentions, but wild animals are not meant to be in captivity. It goes against the very grain of their nature and it’s a sad injustice for them when shoved into a life of captivity. In fact some animals do not even survive the trip into captivity. They die from stress related issues as a direct result of being yanked from their native habitats and forced into utter confinement. Imagine if you were in the same situation as these poor animals; plucked from your home and family and kept in a cage? If we did that to humans, we would be thrown in jail and the masses would be beyond outraged! We should have the same reaction to those who do this to animals as well.
Of course, everyone loves a baby. Babies are cute, helpless, dependent, and the most desirable pet to own. We all know that a mama will not willingly let her baby be stripped from her. Therefore a poacher will most often kill the mother to gain easier access to the baby. It’s a horrible outcome for both mama and baby.
If an animal makes it to its final destination, there are a host of other issues that can arise. First, many wild animals harbor infectious diseases that are highly contagious and potentially fatal to humans. Even if they never physically harm you, they could transmit dangerous and possibly fatal diseases. Next, they are wild! Many pet owners obtain an infant or young animal when they are still cute and manageable, but fail to realize that they can grow into unpredictable, savage, and unmanageable pets. I’ve watched many episodes of “Fatal Attractions” which is a TV show documenting the devastating consequences of owing an exotic animal. Unfortunately, many people are naive about owning these pets and they have the mentality that potential negative outcomes simply will not happen to them. They have this imaginary special bond with the animal which skews their thinking. Or they think they are careful enough to never get hurt. Unfortunately, this can result in unimaginable consequences. Time after time people are harmed or even killed by their beloved pets. This very outcome was highlighted in the news several years ago when a woman’s face was torn off by her friend’s chimpanzee. Although severely maimed, the woman survived, but the chimpanzee was killed for its role in the attack. She didn’t blame the chimpanzee; rather she admitted he was also a victim. She stated he was often sad and would sit in the corner and rock. His coat was dull, with flaky skin, sores on his face and wounded knuckles from hitting the cage. This was obviously an unhappy, stressed animal. It was truly sad outcome for both involved and a shocking reminder that exotic animals are dangerous to the owners and to their friends, neighbors and community alike. Another example is “on August 28, 1999, in Centralia, IL, a 3-year-old boy was strangled to death by the family’s pet python. The parents were charged with child endangerment and unlawful possession of a dangerous animal.” I cannot imagine the horror the parents felt when this happened. Nor can I imagine why anyone would own such a dangerous animal let alone allow it be anywhere near a small child. People need to think intelligently and weigh the pros (which there are none) and the cons to owning a wild animal. As evidenced, it could result in unimaginable consequences.
Wild animals do not make good pets. When in captivity, they cannot freely express their nature and frequently become exasperated to the point of explosion. They also require special care and diets that most owners cannot fulfill. The animal ends up suffering due to inadequate care and the owner becomes frustrated, often leading to further mismanagement of care or possible abandonment of the animal. Unfortunately, the desire to own an exotic animal is often short lived. The owner moves on with their lives and the animal is left to suffer the aftermath. Owners no longer satisfied with their exotic pet will try to relinquish the animal to a zoo. Unfortunately, zoos cannot possibly take ownership of all the deserted animals which leads to the animals being euthanized or left to live in appalling conditions.
There are several steps that can hopefully reduce the number of exotic animals in captivity. First, don’t ever personally own an exotic pet. It may appear glamorous or exciting to own an exotic animal, but the animal almost always suffers in the end. Be a part of the solution! Do not add to the problem. If you see an exotic animal, please report any signs of animal abuse or deplorable living conditions to the local authorities and/or Animal Control. Educate your neighbors, family members and your community about the dangers and potential consequences of owning an exotic animal. Support local and state legislation to ban the private possession of exotic animals. Unfortunately, many states still allow exotic animals to be privately held. We can write letters and contact our local and state legislators to lobby for change.
We as humans would not be at the top of the food chain if we were not intellectually superior. We are not stronger or faster than most of the animals on the planet. We also would not thrive or do well in captivity. We need to keep this in mind when thinking about owning an exotic animal. Odds are neither you nor the animal will prosper in this situation. We all belong in our natural habitats.
#2. The Consequences of the Exotic Pets Black Marke
By Jesus Gomez
Depending on the person, the reasons as to getting a pet can vary among those who are searching for different types of pets. To some, a pet, like a dog, can serve as some sort form of therapy when they are in a depressive situation. However, in cases where the pet is obscure and can only serve for the owner’s pleasure, it is difficult to predict what proceeds from a high demand for exotic animals. It is impossible to determine if an exotic animal is sold as a pet to someone, if the animal was dragged away from its family and natural habitat. However, there are steps the public can take to protect these animals. The harmful costs of an exotic pet black market are endless and unpredictable but one can find solutions for consequences like poaching, disease exposure and extinction.
Poaching is where one hunts or kills an animal to keep them captive or to use the resources in their body for personal benefits. The most well-known cases of poaching are the ones that involve African elephants for their tusks that produce ivory. Ivory is used as material to create things that in modern society are now being made with different material. The exotic pet black market can be seen a poaching black market because of the variation of worth of different people. One may want a tiger as a pet but to another person, to kill the animal for it’s pelt is more valuable for them if they sell it in the black market than keeping it. According to CNBC, the black market is worth “an estimated $10 billion worldwide, animals are butchered for their most valuable parts, and brazen smugglers will stop at nothing to get rich.” Although one’s intentions can be pure and legitimate when they want to take care of an exotic animal, it impossible to distinguish these people from the poachers. For all the public knows, they are contributing to the multi-million industry.
Organizations have risen to raise awareness of poaching to create an effort to influence common people to contribute to protect these animals. Organizations like the African Wildlife Foundation, do what they can to find solutions for this problem by recruiting, training and equipping scouts to protect the animals in their natural habitat. As a result, they can fight the battle against poaching and the exotic pets black market head on. This type of physical help can have better results than just raising money.
It is said that one’s immune system grows with a pet because of all the new bacteria, germs and diseases that they are being exposed to and are constantly fighting. Imagine when someone who has not been exposed to the bacteria of an exotic animal before gets a disease because they bought a snake as a pet. Such an outcome is not so farfetched and has happened before to common people. Vets are familiar with diseases that are obtained from a dogs, cats and other common pets but they do not know how to prevent diseases with exotic animals. This is a risk that one must be aware of before they consider having an uncommon animal as a pet. This must also be taken to extra precaution when one buys an exotic pet off the black market. There is no way to ensure that the previous owner took any precautions to make sure their animals did not have ringworm, salmonella and other diseases that can be past to the new owners.
The Emergent Disease Foundation is a U.K registered charity that tries to aware pet owners of the dangers of diseases and preventing the passing of these diseases. They created a leaflet titled Exotic Pets: Reducing the Risk of Human Infection. In this leaflet, they prompt readers that children under 5 years old and the elderly are in more risk to receive an infection from an exotic animal than others. Reptiles and amphibians can carry salmonella and can carry on to humans easily. Clifford Warwick from the Emergent Disease Foundation says” If you get salmonella from a snake, rather than a dog or cat, it would be a more serious form of salmonella and more difficult to treat.” The best way to fight these diseases it to prevent them from happening. This is achieved by informing the public that having an exotic pet can expose them to diseases. The black market can be a dangerous place and raising awareness for exotic animal to human diseases can help prevent a death of an animal as well as a human.
Since the modernization of humans, multiple species have gone extinct because of the actions that we have taken. However, we have also been able to prevent extinction of certain animals by protecting them. The problem is whether taking an animal as a pet will help protect them or push the species towards extinction. The exotic pet black market exists because there isn’t a way to purchase these animals legally or without going through other obstacles like money and regulations. The animal that is being sold in the black market could’ve been taken from its natural habitat and be at risk of dying from not being properly taken care of. Also, there is the possibility that it was born-bred and there are two animals who are being held captive and being forced to reproduce for the owner’s benefit. If the demand for a certain animal increases in the world or in a country, the risk of causing the extinction of that animal could be increased tremendously.
According to BornFreeUSA.org, “breeding, selling and transporting” of exotic wildlife is completely legal to the federal government and to most states. “Nevertheless, because the chances of getting caught are so slim and the financial gains are so huge, exotic animal traffickers and breeders gladly take the risks associated with breaking the law.” The only logical solution to stop this is to increase awareness and try to influence policy makers to create laws for animal rights. Only then will the risk for breaking the law be greater and decrease the number of participants in the black market. That way we can fight those who break laws and push animals towards extinction.
In conclusion, the best way to stop the black market from creating negative consequences from taking place would be raising awareness for this issue. Organizations and the people who join them will try to get law makers to create some sort law to stop the exotic pet black market. People will be more aware of where they buy their pets and of the potential diseases that come with them. Any pet is supposed to be taken care for and loved for but an exotic animal comes with extra baggage that most people are not able to carry.
#3. Wildlife Black Market Trade Worldwide
By Veronica Martin
Roaming through the endless trees, feeling the long savannah grass, or sniffing the dew from a leaf in the tropical rainforest. These are sensations that many wildlife will never be able to experience, as they go through the unfortunate abuse of a life in black market trade. Exotic wildlife animals are illegally traded online throughout the whole globe, making the net market value for exotic animal trade to be over $19 billion.1 Birds were reported as the most commonly traded, with reptiles as second, and mammals as third.2 The live wild animals are mainly sold into entertainment industries or to owners for companion animals. The unfortunate thing about these situations is that almost always, even if unintended, the animals are not taken care of in the way that they naturally require. The negative effects of exotic animal trade are due to many factors including unmanageable needs for the exotic animals, greed for valuable parts of animals, and the impact trading has on the ecosystem.
Many times, animals such as monkeys, lizards, or even lions are purchased as pets on the black market by people who do not have the capabilities to take care of them. The animals may start off as cute and small when first purchased, but as they continue to grow, they become larger, more dangerous, and higher maintenance than expected. Due to the intense needs of the exotic animals, many animals that are purchased for the purpose of a companion often die or are abandoned by the owner. For example, species such as sugar gliders may pass away from stress of being alone if they are not socialized.1 In the wild, some of the animals purchased may walk several miles a day in their natural habitat, but in captivity are unable to perform this natural behavior and therefor can develop health issues.1 Due to the ignorance of owners, the exotic animals are faced with neglect and are unable to carry out their lives in an acceptable fashion.
Along with the needs of exotic animals being too intense to keep up with, those which are victim of the black market often go through a tremendous amount of abuse due to the greed of people who want them or even parts of them. There are a few policies in place that prohibit the shipment of animals, however the money made by the illegal activity outweighs the risk for most workers who transport the creatures. Many times, during the process of capturing the wild animals, the mother is killed so that poachers can take the babies without getting hurt.4 Along with being separated from their natural habitat, the transportation from their home to other foreign countries often offers miserable conditions. Due to the fact that the animals are being smuggled illegally, many times they will be taped or wired to objects to keep them from moving during the journey. Turtles have been stacked by the dozens into things like tube socks, a python has even been found in a CD case.3 According to a German customs agent, the survival rate of animals getting shipped is only about 10 to 20 percent, in turn making the mortality rate 80 to 90 percent.3
The greed that causes people to ship animals under such cruel conditions, also drives people to steel body parts from animals which are of high value. Along with dollar value, there are beliefs that some animal parts such as ivory have healing effects, and therefor are of immense treasure to some cultures around the world. From the years 2007-2014, South African poaching of rhino population raised by nine thousand percent.5 Along with this, elephant populations in both Asia and Africa have decreased significantly due to poaching of the magnificent creatures. In fact, Tens of thousands of elephants are still being poached every year, even after the ban on international trade of ivory.6 Unfortunately, this is due to the high value of substances such as ivory, which still encourages illegal trade to occur. Along with this, trophy hunting is a big factor which plays into poaching of exotic species. Most people which are uneducated or ignorant on the damage caused by big game hunting, consider the dead carcass to be a trophy to their endeavors. The issues of slaughtering exotic animals for greed does not stop there, but also has a detrimental effect on the environment.
Biodiversity is the key aspect that makes earth, earth. Key stone species refer to types of animals which have a very specific and important role in the ecosystem. This includes animals such as elephants, as they eat small trees of savannas and in turn preserve the grasslands. The grass needs to be exposed to sunlight to survive, so without the elephants eating the small trees, the environment would not thrive. Other examples of key stone species include mountain lions, sea otters, bees and many more. If elephant poaching continues at the current rate, it is expected that the species will become extinct within the next decade.7 As explained before, if a keystone species such as an elephant goes extinct, the whole ecosystem will suffer. The earth’s environments are greatly fragile and sensitive, therefor the poaching and extraction of its wildlife will create a domino effect of tragedy.
The main way to make a difference in the Black Market trade of animals is to educate people on the harm caused by such a system and implement more law enforcement. As stated before, some cultures around the world have beliefs on certain animal’s body parts. These beliefs most likely go back very far, and will be hard to break but it is crucial that systems become put in place which educate communities on the dangers of continuing poaching and extraction rates. These could be volunteer projects, non-profits, or possibly one day a system put in place by the local leader. Those who chose to trophy hunt also need to be educated on the impact they are causing on the biodiversity in environments, as most of them most likely do not realize the true implications. While education is key, it will not happen overnight. Another measure that needs to be taken is larger worldwide law enforcement on the extraction, transport, and hunting of exotic animals. There are laws in place, however the current U.S fish and wildlife service is staffed with only 400 people, while the drug enforcement agency has 11,000 workers.6 Arrests are made very often regarding smuggling animals, however with such small staff compared to other enforcement agencies, the wildlife service is bound to fall behind. In fact, there has yet to be any detailed criminologist studies on the exploitation of animals in trade.8 The world is not made of money; however, the environment is crucial to every living thing on this earth, and therefor it would be extremely beneficial to the whole population to create more enforcement regarding exotic animal trade.
Thousands of exotic animals across the globe are subject to extraction from their environment, abuse, and even death due to black market trade. This is mainly caused by greed and ignorance of the harm caused. In order to make a difference regarding this issue, education plans need to be implemented as well as more intense law enforcement. Hopefully in the future years, with efforts around the globe, the harmful acts taken against wildlife will be reduced and one day minute.