Written by Jeff Mackey
Ever wondered what it's like to take part in one of PETA's undercover investigations? Tune in to the Discovery
Channel tonight, January 28, at 8 p.m. Eastern time for an episode of Extreme Smuggling that shines a light on
the trafficking of exotic and endangered wildlife and the investigative work that's
crucial to fighting this cruel and illicit trade in living beings.
The program will feature PETA Senior Vice President of
Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch, who will discuss PETA's seven-month undercover
investigation of a massive international wholesale dealer of exotic animals, U.S. Global
Exotics, Inc. (USGE). PETA's investigation led to the immediate closure of USGE, the largest animal seizure in U.S. history, and the pursuit of USGE's owner Jasen Shaw on federal charges of smuggling, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting. Shaw
remains a wanted fugitive.
Hundreds of thousands of animals of all kinds were cruelly
confined, severely crowded, and denied basic necessities such as food, water,
space, heat, and veterinary care during their time in USGE's filthy warehouse. Most
animals' ultimate destination was stores such as PetSmart and
PETCO, massive commercial chains that sell wild animals stolen from their
native homes, imported into the U.S. from breeding warehouses overseas, or bred and sold by massive
mills such as Atlanta-based Sun
Pet and Rainbow World Exotics, a Texas-based dealer that bought animals from USGE and supplied animals to
PETCO and PetSmart stores.
PETA's investigation led to the rescue of more than 26,000 animals from the USGE hellhole.
What You Can Do
Animals sold by PetSmart, PETCO, and other pet stores are
wild-caught or bred in horrific
conditions, leaving countless animals to endure a miserable life in captivity, deprived of
all that is natural and important to them. Please buy your animal-care supplies
only from stores that do not sell any live animals.
Written by Guest Blogger
an essay published this week in the Orlando Sentinel, reptile specialist Clifford Warwick—who has assisted PETA
with several cases, including our investigation into the notorious exotic-animal
dealer U.S. Global Exotics—spoke out about the abuse and neglect that is inherent in the
exotic "pet" trade:
Last week, a Brazilian man was
caught trying to smuggle 27 snakes wrapped in nylon hose and stashed inside
stereo speakers, checked as luggage, at Orlando International Airport. He allegedly admitted that he planned to breed them for
the pet trade.
Days earlier, a 17.5-foot-long
Burmese python was captured in the Everglades, probably at one time a pet [who] had been dumped or
In July, a baby in Illinois was
found with a python — believed to be a neighbor's escaped pet — biting and
contracting around his foot as he slept in his crib. . . .
Unfortunately, in my experience with
human and animal health, as well as wider issues of ecology, species
conservation and even economics, harm is inherent and almost universal in
exotic pet keeping. What is abnormal, derided and a prosecutable abuse of a
dog, such as keeping him or her almost constantly locked up in a small kennel,
is normal "care" for an exotic pet, whose life will almost certainly
be spent in a wooden and glass box, wire cage or aquarium.
Ironically, if exotic-pet keepers
saw a small dog or a cat imprisoned in a fish tank with a light bulb for warmth
and some crickets as food, then they, too, would recognize the outrageous
dearth of even basic humane provisions and view the treatment and the animal's
life as nothing less than abusive and cruel. …
Most reptile keepers I know are
passionate about their hobby, but their level of biological knowledge is,
frankly, appalling. …
It is predictable, then, that what
follows is animal stress, disease and death; a recent scientific analysis
conducted in the U.K. shows that three-quarters of all pet reptiles die in
their first year in the home — and that excludes the heavy trade-related losses
that are known to be around 70 percent within just six weeks. . . .
Almost weekly now, independent
scientific and medical evidence is emerging that reveals the depth of the
problems associated with exotic pet trading and keeping. Based on the evidence,
communities around the world are realizing that the only meaningful action is
to ban the commercial trade and, in some cases, also keeping. …
[P]ublic health and safety, animal
welfare and species and environmental protection easily outweigh the habit of
keeping wild animals where they do not belong, do not thrive and, more often
than not, die prematurely and badly.
Via the Orlando Sentinel
Written by Michelle Kretzer
Tess and Amelia weren't always sitting so pretty.
were rescued during PETA's
investigation of U.S. Global Exotics (USGE), a massive exotic-animal
dealer that denied the animals it warehoused veterinary care, adequate space,
ventilation, heat, and even adequate food and water. Tess's and Amelia's luck
changed when they were seized from USGE, along with 26,000 other animals.
found a home with a PETA member replete with love, toys, treats, and a thousand
comfy places where a hamster can curl up and spend a
Veterinarian Gene F. Giggleman has been formally
reprimanded and fined $2,500 by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical
Examiners based on allegations of unprofessional and/or dishonorable conduct following
PETA's investigation at U.S.
Global Exotics (USGE), a massive exotic-animal
dealer where Giggleman was the attending veterinarian.
In this previously unreleased video footage,
Giggleman smashes squirrels' heads into a cinderblock and recommends that workers
cut sick snakes' heads off or "freeze 'em solid" in order to kill
The board found that Giggleman lost his
controlled-substances log and falsely signed legally required documents attesting
to the health of animals he had never examined so that they could be shipped
overseas for the exotic-pet trade.
Despite the board's findings, he is
still licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Texas and has retained his
job as a professor at Parker University in Dallas.
PETA's undercover investigation of USGE provided evidence of the abuse of more
than 27,000 animals and resulted in the seizure of the animals and the closure of the business. Facing federal charges in connection with violating
a wildlife protection order called the "Lacey Act," including
smuggling, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting, former USGE owner Jasen Shaw and his wife, Vanessa, fled the country and are believed to be hiding in New
Zealand. Interpol has issued a notice about Shaw and his arrest warrants.
Giggleman is still under investigation
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for his actions at USGE. Help ensure that
Giggleman is held accountable for all that he did at USGE by urging Sarah R.
Saldaña, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Texas, to
charge Giggleman with felony and/or misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act.
Contact Saldaña through her office's
public information officer, Kathy Colvin.
Written by PETA
A temporary booth set up in Orlando by the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) started to look like a
scene from The Jungle Book after the
agency gave "amnesty" to people in possession of exotic animals
banned under Florida law and agreed to take in the animals and place them in
facilities equipped to care for them.
The point of the agency's first Exotic Pet Amnesty Day
wasn't to cut illegal animal owners a break—it was to keep owners from simply
turtles, sugar gliders, and other exotic animals loose in the
wild, where they would disrupt the local ecosystem and perish slowly and
Abandonment of exotic animals—who are
usually purchased on impulse by unprepared and uninformed consumers—is just one
of many serious problems associated with the exotic-pet industry.
Many exotic animals are stolen out of their habitats in the wild, torn from
their families, and shipped in cramped, filthy containers across the world before
being warehoused in massive mills, awaiting their ultimate destination: pet
stores, including pet-trade giants PETCO and PetSmart.
A PETA investigation into international
animal dealer U.S. Global
revealed that animals were crammed into pillowcases, shipping crates, troughs,
and even plastic bottles, sometimes for weeks at a time. Many who were sick or
dying were frozen to death in a freezer. Our investigation resulted in the
largest animal seizure in history, the closure of the facility,
and the issuing of an arrest warrant by the federal government for owner Jasen
Shaw. But exotic animals are still suffering at the hands of other dealers like
Rainbow World Exotics
and Sun Pet Ltd.,
which supply PETCO
and PetSmart stores across the country. Despite evidence of systemic cruelty
and neglect at these small-animal factory farms, PETCO and PetSmart refused to
sever ties with Rainbow and Sun Pet and continue to buy animals from them.
Good for the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission for preventing animals acquired on a whim from
suffering uncertain fates in a concrete jungle far from their natural homes. To
help do the same, click here to e-mail PETCO and PetSmart
and demand that they stop selling animals.
by Michelle Sherrow
Hugs was one of the roughly 250 animals who were surrendered by PLRS.
Even though The Hasselhoffs was canceled after just two episodes, 2010 still turned out to be a pretty great year. Thirty-three Chilean miners were rescued after being trapped underground for more than two months, and dog guardians were introduced to the amazing stuffing-free Crazy Critters™ dog toys. While impressive, I am not sure they quite measure up to 2009's Shake Weight®.
2010 was also an outstanding year for PETA. In addition to celebrating 30 years of fighting to end the suffering of animals, PETA scored a number of remarkable victories. Here are a few of them:
1. Professional Laboratory and Research Services (PLRS): PLRS surrendered nearly 200 dogs and more than 50 cats and shut its doors just one week after PETA released the results of its shocking undercover investigation of the laboratory and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2. Nike: After PETA sent Nike undercover footage detailing the gruesome suffering that the exotic-skins industry inflicts on animals, the world's leading shoe manufacturer and its upscale affiliate Cole Haan stopped selling the skins of alligators, snakes, and other animals.
3. NASA: And who can forget the early holiday gift that PETA and our supporters received when NASA called off plans to conduct cruel radiation experiments on monkeys earlier this month?
4. Utah Pound Seizure: Prompted by PETA's shocking undercover investigation inside laboratories at the University of Utah, the state amended its archaic "pound seizure" law so that government-run animal shelters would no longer be forced to sell dogs and cats to laboratories for use in cruel and deadly experiments. PETA's investigation and the new law also prompted the shelter that had been selling the most animals to the university to end the shameful practice.
5. U.S. Global Exotics (USGE): After reviewing evidence gathered during PETA's seven-month undercover investigation of this PETCO and PetSmart supplier, Arlington (Texas) Municipal Judge Michael Smith awarded custody of the 26,000 animals rescued from the warehouse to the city of Arlington. USGE closed, the company's empty facility went up for sale, and a federal arrest warrant was issued for USGE owner Jasen Shaw, who is under investigation for smuggling, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting and is believed to be hiding in New Zealand.
6. ITO EN, Ltd.: After more than two years of private discussions with PETA, Japan's ITO EN, Ltd.—the world's largest green-tea manufacturer, with more than $3 billion in annual global sales—instituted a new policy against conducting animal tests.
7. Lufthansa: Less than a day after PETA released photos of more than 50 beagles who were transported on a Lufthansa cargo plane from the U.S. to an animal testing facility in Scotland, Lufthansa announced a new policy prohibiting the transport of dogs and cats to laboratories.
While this year was marked by some great achievements, we still need your help to make 2011 an even better year for animals. Will you support our lifesaving efforts to stop animal suffering and abuse in the new year and beyond?
Written by Frank Schippers
Picking the top 10 PETA Files blog posts of the past year was harder than figuring out the plot of Inception, but we've narrowed it down to these posts, which cover everything from Lady Gaga's meat dress to our "Pope Condom" campaign:
Which blog post got you the most fired up this year?
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Update: Exotic animal smuggler, Anson Wong, sentenced! Six months in jail and a hefty fine for illegally exporting 95 boa constrictor snakes.
A broken suitcase at the Kuala Lumpur airport led to the discovery of a mata mata turtle and nearly 100 boa constrictors and other snakes who had been crammed into bags. Notorious international reptile smuggler Anson Wong was arrested by airport security and turned over to Malaysia's wildlife department. Does the name ring any bells?
Two companies owned by Wong were suppliers to U.S. Global Exotics (USGE), the wildlife trafficking company that went belly-up after a PETA investigation led authorities to seize more than 26,000 animals from the company's Texas warehouse and the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to issue an arrest warrant for Jasen Shaw, who is still a fugitive hiding out overseas.
This isn't the first time that Wong has been suspected of slipping a little more into his luggage than duty-free liquor. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to trafficking in wildlife in the U.S. and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison. Yet here he is, nearly a decade later, still stuffing snakes into his Samsonite.
Next time, let's hope that Wong gets busted in China, where they are dead serious about wildlife smuggling (at least for now).
Written by Alisa Mullins
Phew! PETA's "BOYCOTT PETCO" brick* survived the 5.7-magnitude earthquake that shook San Diego's PETCO Park on Monday—and here's a photo snapped by an activist last night to prove it:
Don't get me wrong—PETA loves the stadium's tasty, animal-friendly eats but hates the massive suffering that PETCO causes by buying animals from shady dealers and selling them to anyone who walks in, intentions be damned. Animals like the poor fellow below who are bred for and shipped to PETCO and other pet stores get their world shaken to pieces every single day by being mishandled, abused, or even thrown into the trash to die. They are crammed en masse into crowded, filthy containers at animal distributors such as U.S. Global Exotics and Sun Pet, and they're often denied basic necessities, including food, water, adequate air, and veterinary care.
Let's shake things up for PETCO (the store—not the stadium!) by telling it to stop selling animals immediately or we'll shop elsewhere for our dog beds, cat trees, toys, and treats.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
*Line up the first letter of each word to find the brick's hidden message!
Validation came this week when PETCO settled a $1.75 million lawsuit filed by four California counties over the company's atrocious animal care record and deceptive consumer practices. The suit alleged that PETCO failed to notice or treat sick animals—and overcharged customers to boot! This lawsuit follows a 2004 case in which PETCO paid more than $850,000 to settle similar charges and was ordered by the court to implement a detailed daily animal care procedure in all its California stores. Guess it forgot.
Is anyone surprised? We've been filing complaints about PETCO's abysmal treatment of animals for years. But the mills that supply the birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and other small animals to PETCO (and PetSmart) are also responsible for widespread animal suffering. PETA's undercover investigator documented horrific conditions in the enormous warehouses at Sun Pet Ltd., an Atlanta-based wholesale animal dealer that supplies these chains. And who can forget the dead, dying and diseased animals our investigator discovered at animal mill U.S. Global Exotics?
If PETCO is apparently incapable of providing decent care to animals right in its own stores, what hope do animals have at these awful mills that churn out animals as if they were disposable toys? Buyer beware: Go elsewhere!
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.