Even here on the coast diametrically opposite to the one where folks eat vegan granola for dinner and demonstrate naked in the streets against the wearing of fur coats, we’re pretty familiar with the antics of extreme animal rights activists. From throwing paint on people to picketing at Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants to breaking into farms and laboratories to release captive animals which damage native ecosystems and then die miserably in the wild, their agenda isn’t healthy or safe for humans or animals. In many cases, even the well-meaning ones seem to do far more harm than good for the animals they claim to protect. Most of us know that they’re a menace, but what North Carolinians might not know is that they’ve just moved into our neighborhood in force.

A California animal rights organization (API) wrote a bill that was introduced to our legislature in a decidedly sneaky manner. SB1032 is the same bill, word for word, that has been introduced by these California vegans in quite a number of other states. That much they don’t deny. But there’s another similarity worth noting. In every state where this particular animal rights group has introduced this legislature, a pair of baby lions or tigers “escapes” from an unknown facility in that state and makes the news during the pending legislation. The animals can never be tracked back to any owners. The evidence very strongly suggests that the actual culprits in the “escape” of the animals are not irresponsible private owners of exotic wildlife, but extreme animal rights activists up to shenanigans.

The independent zoo and wildlife professionals in the state of North Carolina support legal regulation on the keeping of exotic animals to ensure public safety and animal welfare. Such regulation already exists (Captive Wildlife Safety Act, S269ES) and is administered by the USDA. What the animal rights extremists are trying to achieve in this state is a total ban that would close all of the smaller zoos, sanctuaries, nature centers, rescue groups, rehabilitators and school outreach educators working with wildlife. The real extremists among them will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, even when people as well as animals may be harmed in the process.

I must ruefully note that they seem to have begun their staging of “dangerous wildlife” events right here in Wilmington. It’s been a remarkably predictable course from state to state, and we expect that more antics are yet to come in the next few crucial weeks.

Today the Cape Fear Serpentarium in Wilmington, North Carolina recieved a remarkably well staged phone call purporting to be a complaint about one of our anacondas getting loose and eating a pet dog. The voices involved were not those of children, and the sound effects quite realistic.

The Serpentarium has never had anacondas, and we are certainly not missing any giant snakes (or any other animals in our well secured and valuable collection).

Today’s temperatures in Wilmington ranged from 31 to 56 degrees. Absolutely none of the giant constrictors and very few reptiles in the world will voluntarily ingest food at 56 degrees, as it would be likely to result in their death. An ectotherm’s biological processes are completely temperature-dependent, and digestion simply would not take place at this temperature, leading to putrefaction in the gut and probable death for the animal. Most reptiles would not even be able to move, or could move only very slowly and weakly, while exposed to temperatures in this range. Constriction would certainly be impossible.

In New Hanover county, calls to the 911 dispatch system that involve reptile emergencies are referred to me. I am responsible for the removal and relocation of nuisance reptiles in this county. We perform this service on a volunteer basis to serve our community. I phoned the 911 dispatcher to determine whether this anaconda incident had any basis whatsoever in fact. I was not particularly surprised to learn that no actual reptile emergencies had been reported today.

In short, here they come again. There may be quite an upcoming media storm if the animal rights activists continue to follow their usual pattern of manufacturing “dangerous exotic wildlife” incidents during pending legislation.

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