(US) NY Times: Some People's Pests Are Others' Meal Tickets
marisul at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 15 15:16:44 EDT 2003
Some People's Pests Are Others' Meal Tickets
AT Disney's Animal Kingdom, that cricket crawling around in a glass cage is not there for entertainment value: it will soon be dinner for the tarantula sleeping nearby. Crickets are part of the specialized diet for tarantulas, and for birds, snakes and monkeys here. As such, the insects are a tiny part of the highly specialized business of feeding smaller creatures to larger ones.
Although the revenue is only a fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars that zoos pay annually to feed their charges, this business is no flyspeck. Its sales are $25 million to $50 million a year.
SUPPLIERS of rodents fear protests from animal-rights groups, so they shun publicity. Several companies refused to talk about their work. "I am concerned about the PETA people sabotaging my operation," said one breeder in Texas, who insisted on anonymity, speaking of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Debbie Leahy, director for captive and exotic animals at PETA, said: "We have not looked at the industry that supplies zoos and pet stores. We are more concerned about the exotic animals people buy at pet stores."
Many suppliers say demand is growing for "pinks" and "fuzzies," terms for baby mice of different ages. These mice sell for as little as 47 cents each
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