A letter I am thinking of sending.............
My name is Ryan Wunsch. My wife Sheila and myself are curators of Scales Zoo in Leader Saskatchewan. It is exclusively a reptile zoo, and our primary goals are to educate people (children and adults) and promote conservation of the world’s animals and their habitat.
Reptiles are very misunderstood creatures. Many people are afraid of reptiles because of their lack of knowledge. Unfortunately, reptiles all to often get a “bad rap”. I can also see how this “bad rap” can fuel proposed bylaws.
This is very unfortunate.
I started by keeping reptiles at home. If I were not allowed to do this, because of a bylaw, I would have most likely not continued my interest and learning about wildlife and then environment.
I know many biologists, zoologists, herpetologists and environmentalists who I am sure would not have pursued one of these very honourable careers, if they had not been given the chance to keep reptiles.
The term “exotic animal”, due to various past incidents (some not so past) is being used recklessly in shock-media campaigns against many causes.
Reptiles have been kept and captively bred as a hobby (herpeticulture), for more than 50 years.
What makes them more exotic than a hamster from Siberia, a gerbil from Africa, or a fish (many fish are ruthlessly caught from the wild, to die in petstores and fish tanks)? For some reason these other animals are perfectly acceptable pets.
In the last 20, and more so in the last 5 – this hobby has seen many great advances. Many species of snakes are more than 10 generations captive bred.
Furthermore, there are 2700 species of snakes on the planet. There are not enough zoos in the world to captively propagate this number of snake species. If not for herpetoculture, there will some day be much less than 2700 species.
Reptiles are becoming endangered and extinct faster than many types of animals primarily due to habitat loss and lack of protection. Every one wants to save the cute panda bear, but when it comes to reptiles (especially snakes, due to their perceived lack of cuteness by the general public), there are too few people who fight for the cause.
The best keepers of reptiles are those people who truly love them. I would much rather see these animals be kept by people who are caring for them properly, than to see the animals go to overcrowded shelters.
Have a good day