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Smuggled exotic animals? What happens to them?

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Hi all! Are there any Fish and Wildlife Service folks out there who can answer this question for me? I'm wondering what the protocol is when, say, a suitcase full of parakeets is found smuggled into the US. Are they given to zoos? Sent back? Put down? I've found some info about zoos and sanctuaries taking them on but I'd like to know what the protocol is as I imagine sometimes it's not possible to find a zoo home for them... and what if they're endangered? Are they sent back?

I hope someone can help! Thanks in advance!
#1 - November 24, 2015, 04:55 AM

I don't know the answer, but this is a really interesting question. If you find out, I hope you'll share.
#2 - November 24, 2015, 03:49 PM
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Still trying to find out! I'll definitely let you know when I do.
#3 - November 24, 2015, 04:06 PM


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I can't find the info on those pages! Does it say what happens to the animals but I'm to blind to see it?

I've contacted various offices including government and non-profit organisations, no response as yet, but we shall see.
#5 - November 25, 2015, 06:44 AM

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I was hoping you could find your answer by looking at case studies.  IMHO, I think it depends on the circumstances. I would say the first thing they would look at is where the animal(s) came from. For example, if a panda was taken from Wolong Panda Reserve and smuggled into this country, I should think it would have to be returned.  If it's a very rare animal, I would definitely think the place of origin would want it back. You may find some information by looking up the CITES Treaty which has information about the trade in wildlife.
https://www.cites.org/eng/disc/what.php     
 :turkey2 :applepie
#6 - November 25, 2015, 08:09 AM

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Thanks. Yes, I'd already found several case studies, most of which are connected to zoos (where they take on the smuggled animal) or sanctuaries. I'd like to know the exact protocol, though... there must be some kind of regulations or process. Like they have to try and send it back but if that's impossible or will harm the animal, then they look to rehome it in a zoo/sanctuary, but if they can't find a zoo/sanctuary for it? Do they put the animals down? That's what I need to know.

I'm sure someone will get back to me eventually. They're probably just very busy finding chameleons in ladies' handbags and the like! :)
#7 - November 25, 2015, 08:50 AM

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I'm so glad you asked this question. I just spent some time online trying to research it. Apparently, the disposition of these animals varies considerably from state to state and country to country. You probably already saw this, but just in case you didn't I found the information below. I know this isn't exactly what you want. I did read that zoos usually won't take these animals. You might try calling the San Diego Zoo in California. I'm sure they know all about the problem and education is one of their mandates:

"The U.S. is the main destination for exotic and endangered wild animals. National, state, and local governments are passing laws that prohibit the capture and sale of certain species, but most of these regulations are poorly enforced and are designed to protect humans from disease rather than ensuring that animals are handled humanely.

It can be difficult to sort out what governmental regulations exist to control the influx of exotic animals into the U.S. Endangered species are supposed to be monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), but smugglers find ways around inspections. Protected species may be hidden among legal animals or dangerous species of animals so that officers are less likely to thoroughly hand-inspect shipments.38 The FWS also suffers from a lack of resources: “With the number of inspectors, we are able to physically inspect 25% of wildlife shipments,” says one federal wildlife inspector.39 Another inspector adds, “In some states we have no officers watching out for trade; in other states we may have just one officer. I doubt that any officer would disagree with me when I say we do not have enough officers to take on the job.”40

Penalties for violations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are stipulated by individual countries, and the punishments range from short jail sentences to fines. “People simply pay [the fine] and continue to break the law,” according to one CITES representative. Also, CITES protection does not apply to exotic animals who are born in captivity."

Good luck! Great idea for an article or book.
#8 - November 25, 2015, 11:27 AM
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Hi! Thanks for this. Yes, I found similar information all leading me to believe that there is no protocol at all but it simply is a case-by-case thing. Which seems ridiculous and outrageous but no doubt is the case!

#9 - November 25, 2015, 12:02 PM

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(but which also could be really good for writing your book because you are less restrained by the scenario...hee hee!)
#10 - November 25, 2015, 10:49 PM
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It may be that you need to take it a step further and call organizations that might deal with such things in the state your book is set in. Sometimes a phone call does amazing stuff. Wish I could be more help than that suggestion.
#11 - November 29, 2015, 09:23 PM
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Under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Animals), the country of origin has first dibs on getting the animals back.  But apparently what to do with confiscated animals is a huge problem -- google "ISSN 1564-9164" and 'confiscation' for a 2005 CITES newsletter discussing it.  I also can recommend the book Stolen World by Jennie Erin Smith about exotic animal smugglers.  (I have no connection to that book, other than having read it!)
#12 - December 31, 2015, 03:34 PM

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