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Posted By Lois

While many of us were thinking about family and Christmas in December 2009, PETA along with many animal rescue groups were getting ready to go process the largest ever rescue and seizure of exotic animals in USA history.  The place was Arlington, Texas.  The name was Global Exotic. Owned by Jensen and Vanessa Shaw from New Zealand. 

 A total of 3 employees were responsible for caring for all of the animals and reptiles at Global Exotic.  One of these three was an undercover PETA member who was instrumental in providing the legal authorities with photographs, videotapes and testimony.  His efforts to document the lack of supplies and horrible living conditions at the Global Exotics site weighed heavily on the authorities to take action.


Susan A. Brown, DVM worked for months before this seizure to help coordinate the many rescue groups and SPCA's with PETA to help organize different groups and specialists who actively became involved on site and off site to coordinate their efforts once the judge came to a decision.  It became the largest rescue ever in the history of PETA of animal and reptiles.


An overwhelming number of animals and reptiles were involved in this seizure.  Approximately 27.000 animals and reptiles total were surviving under critical conditions.  As you can guess this was no small undertaking from the get go. It took 6 vets and many volunteers 12 hours to inventory and examine all these creatures to be documented as the living and the dead at Global Exotics.  Some 4 thousand animals were either found dead or in need of help to cross over. Global Exotics used freezers to help speed the sick and dying to cross.  An all-volunteer crew was handling some 500 species of animals in total. Many animals were cannibalizing each other just to survive.   This included numerous species that are herbivores. Bowls were found with contaminated food and many filled with mold, feces and urine.  Many suffered from infected wounds, dehydration, malnutrition, and were traumatized. It wasn’t unusual to have 500 assorted animals tossed in a dumpster a day. Some animals would be held in shipping crates anywhere from 48 hours to 2 weeks before being unpacked or shipped.  Sundays the business was closed and everything was at a stand still.  Global Exotics workers used half a day packing and or unpacking animals, then feeding and watering the half of day. (At least that’s what they said they did)  On seizure day December 15, 2009 just to name a few of the animals found: 3 Sloth’s, Ringtail lemurs, Kuwaiti Munds, small frogs kept in 2 liter bottles, 4,000 turtles for the food trade, 550 hedgehogs of which sixty were pregnant and gave birth after the raid in safe clean surroundings. There were 38 prairie dogs as well as some Wallabies, which were shipped out two-in-a crate.  Volunteers talked of how on the morning of the third day after the seizure they came in to the rescue building to find silence and calm.  Each day before this they were greeted by the constant screaming of all the animals rescued.  `We were told that the Shaws at one of their hearings tried to avoid jail time by turning the animals over to zoos. I am glad to say that, that didn't happen.

Posted By Lois

The Shaws at one point even tried to have the PETA under cover employee arrested.  The Shaws also tried to state that their business was a holiday operation and that they were operating under normal industry standards. The Shaws also said that many of the animals came to them in a sick state.  This, I believe could have very well been true, but was exacerbated by conditions and treatment at Global Exotics. The Shaws saw no problem with poor ventilation, lack to pest control, lack of water and food, no stress reduction.  Thank goodness a judge didn't agree with them, saw the light and stated that though this may be the standard for the industry it's still not ok.  At one point reptile groups raised funds for the Shaws’s legal team.  Funny thing is the reptiles suffered the greatest losses of all the creatures rescued. The local news did not even mention these facts on their news.  In all the Shaws launched 20 appeals and lost them all.  In the end all property was sold and animals were awarded to the many rescue groups and dispersed through out the USA and parts of Canada.


 I know many of the hedgehogs continue to show signs of stress from their ordeal and I am sure many of the other rescued animals do too. There was a 15% death rate for the mammals – approximately 4,000 animals died or were humanely euthanized as well as 75 to 100% death rate among the categories of frogs, lizards, snakes…for the reptiles. 

 The pet trade is a multi million dollar industry second only to the illegal drug trade.  The Shaws are not the only exotic animal business out there.  Others still handling business in much the same way as the Shaws and getting away with it on a much smaller level. I am not saying that all pet stores or exotic traders are as bad as the Shaws. Some treat animals with the respect and honor they deserve.  It’s just the ones like the Shaws that give the trade a bad name.


 I hope I have given you something to think about with this blog entry.  Also in closing I want to note this was the third strike for the Shaws.  They no longer run a business in this country.  As for jail time, The Shaws may never serve a day in prison.  They told the courts they wanted to travel to their home country on vacation. If you'll recall I stated that the Shaws home country was New Zealand earlier in this blog.  Yes, They went back to New Zealand and as far as I know at this moment have not been seen or heard from.  What I fear the most is that they may now be in another country setting up another business, under a different name, to do the same thing.


In the mean time Samson, my rescued Texas Tumble Weed as these hedgehogs are called, is living a very comfortable, happy life with me.  Lois