Today, Thursday June 18, I share a disturbing article from the front page of the Los Angeles Times. It is, unfortunately, big news about a huge business, and the article is sensitively written.
The piece, by Thomas Curwen, is headed, "Where the Wild Things Disappear;
The victims of illegal trade sit in a national repository as bracelets, pelts and more."
Curwen opens with:
"At the National Wildlife Property Repository, only the imagination runs wild. Everything else is dead and lies on the crowded shelves of this warehouse outside Denver.
"There's a Hartmann's mountain zebra, its hide a rifle case -- the souvenir of a safari to southern Africa.
"There are the alligators whose skins adorn eight pairs of $2,000 Air Force 1s, the scheme of a hip-hop-inspired importer.
"There are the black bears whose gallbladder bile was extracted and crystallized, a futile cure for hangovers and hemorrhoids.
"Some deaths here, however, defy imagining -- like that of the orangutan, whose skull, carved with decorative swirls and lightning bolts, is all that remains; or the caimans, standing on hind legs and holding silver trays like butlers; or the cheetah, with the frozen snarl and teardrop eyes.
"Domestic and international laws protect roughly 5,000 animals against exploitation and extinction, and the National Wildlife Property Repository is the endpoint for all that is caught and confiscated by federal agencies in this country.
"Held for educational purposes, future undercover operations and possible use by the Smithsonian or other museums, the items in this building represent, in the words of one agent, nothing less than 'the evil in mankind.'
"The federal government may give the repository a fancy name, but it is really a mausoleum, a tomb for nearly 1.5 million mammals, insects, reptiles, birds and assorted sea life, testimony to one of the largest illegal, if not creepiest, trades in the world -- third behind drugs and guns -- worth an estimated $20 billion annually."
The piece, while harrowing in parts, is lengthy and wonderfully informative. It is great to see it on the front page of a leading newspaper. You can read it on line, and see some photos (ugh) at:
You can thank the reporter for the story by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters to the editor will keep the discussion going in the paper. The story opens the door for comments on any aspect of how we treat the Earth and our fellow Earthlings. Please take the opportunity to write.
Just clicking on the story also lets the paper know it is of interest to readers, and emailing it to all your friends will help it go onto the paper's "most emailed" list. That's is a good way to let mainstream media know that we want these issues covered.
My thanks to Frank Sanford for making sure we saw the piece.
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published. And please be sure not to use any comments or phrases from me or from any other alerts in your letters. Editors are looking for original responses from their readers.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)
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Date: Thu Jun 18 18:00:20 2009