Jülich. Der Jülicher Brückenkopf-Zoo gehört zu den beliebtesten Ausflugszielen in der Region. Zu den Hauptattraktionen des kleinen Zoos, der sich der heimischen Fauna verschrieben hat, gehören bei großen und kleinen Besuchern die Luchse.
Die Brückenkopf-Luchse leben in ihrem natürlichen Umfeld, dem Wald. Damit es die Wildkatzen zukünftig aber noch besser haben, einen größeren Freiraum genießen und ein noch naturnaheres Leben führen können, hat der Brückenkopf-Verein keine Mühen gescheut, das Gehege der eindrucksvollen Tiere zu erweitern.
Damit ist ein lang gehegter Wunsch des Vereins in Erfüllung gegangen, der auch den strengen Vorgaben des Kreisveterinäramts entspricht.
Den erweiterten Luchs-Lebensraum hat sich der Verein einiges kosten lassen. Trotz einer Finanzspritze der Aachener Bank über 1500 Euro hat der Verein zwei Jahre hat lang sparen müssen, um die Kosten für das 8000 Euro teure Gehege aufzubringen. Das eiserne Geld-Zusammenhalten hat sich gelohnt: In ihrem neuen und größeren Zuhause können die Wildkatzen nun eine viel größere Freiheit genießen.
MEXICO CITY – From the live snakes that smugglers stuff with packets of cocaine to the white tigers drug lords keep as exotic pets, rare animals are being increasingly sucked into Mexico’s deadly narcotics trade.
Drug gang leaders like to show off rarities like sea turtle skin boots and build ostentatious private zoos at their mansions.
They also reap additional profits by sharing routes with animal traffickers who cram humming birds into cigarette packs and baby monkeys into car air conditioning ducts to be sold to underground pet traders in the United States.
Mexico’s raging drug war killed some 5,700 people last year and some cartel leaders have even been rumored to throw rivals to their big cats as food.
The global illegal trade in live species and animal parts — used for luxury accessories, Asian medicine or folk remedies like aphrodisiacs — is estimated to be worth up to $20 billion a year, Interpol has said.
The big profits available from selling wildlife on the black market — where a certain type of endangered South American macaw can fetch $90,000 and a predatory python around $30,000 — are added incentive to Mexican gangs moving other contraband.
“You can sometimes make as much profit, if not more, than drug smuggling with less consequences, because law enforcement is not paying attention and if you are caught the penalty is just a slap on the wrist,” said Crawford Allan, the North American head of wildlife trade watchdog group Traffic.
TURTLE SKIN AND COCAINE
China and the United States are the largest markets for banned pets and animal products, making the US-Mexico border a busy corridor for the smuggling of many rare species from across Latin America and other parts of the world.
“There is some evidence the same people are trading in both (drugs and animals),” Allan said in Mexico City, where Traffic is helping train inspectors to spot banned animal shipments.
In a major 2007 sting operation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the largest of its kind, undercover agents spent three years infiltrating a ring smuggling endangered sea turtle skins from the shores of southern Mexico to as far north as Chicago.
Illegal drugs turned up on both sides of the border over the course of the investigation, US Fish and Wildlife agent Nicholas Chavez said.
In the United States, marijuana was seized at one of the raided warehouses filled with animal skin boots. On the Mexican side, smugglers offered to ship cocaine along with the hides of turtles whose numbers are rapidly dwindling in the wild.
“It was just thrown out there like ‘Hey, we can also move this stuff if you want.’… They are pretty much moving anything that they can,” Chavez said.
The animals can serve a double purpose when they are used to cover up drug shipments.
“You have cases where there are drugs hidden in false compartments within crates containing live venomous snakes and written on top it says: ‘Venomous snakes. Don’t open!’ So no customs guy is going to want to open that,” Allan said.
Bags of liquid cocaine, transparent and only barely visible due to its slight yellow hue, have been found floating in or lining plastic bags containing live tropical fish.
In one shocking case at Miami’s international airport, some of the 312 boa constrictors found in a 1993 shipment from Colombia were surgically implanted with condoms full of cocaine weighing a total of 80 pounds (36 kg). All the snakes ended up dead.
Colombian drug lords used to stock their own private zoos with lions, tigers, hippos, venomous snakes and other exotic animals, and Mexico’s cartel leaders picked up the same hobby as they took over as dominant players in the cocaine industry.
The head of the Gulf Cartel’s feared armed wing the Zetas had two lions and a tiger on his ranch and it is widely rumored, and sometimes printed in newspapers, that he fed the cats with the bodies of cartel rivals.
Mexico’s local market for exotic pets is also growing.
Since they breed well in captivity, you can legally buy a tiger in Mexico for a couple of thousand dollars, less than the cost of some pedigree dogs, government officials say.
“It’s a show of power and is incredibly common in the criminal underworld. The worst of the worst have exotic animals,” Patricio Patron, the head of Mexico’s environmental protection agency, told Reuters.
A raid on a drug mansion last year in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood netted a menagerie of two lions, two Bengal tigers, two black jaguars and a monkey — all of them well-fed and likely tended to by a personal veterinarian.
But not all pets are as lucky as the somewhat tubby big cats, which were sent to a public zoo after the drug raid.
Many smuggled animals do not survive their long, dark, suffocating journeys.
Chavez, the U.S. agent who works along the US-Mexico border, once found nine baby monkeys — which are usually captured in the wild after their mother is killed — crammed into a car’s air conditioning ducts, most of them dead of suffocation.
Jorge Yanez, a government wildlife expert who runs a shelter for rescued animals in central Mexico, said he once saw four hummingbirds bound and stuffed into an empty pack of cigarettes.
“For every 10 that are trafficked, only one survives,” Yanez said at the shelter, which is nestled in a pine forest and works to rehabilitate and release into the wild Mexican species like hawks, wild boars and lynxes that were seized in police raids or handed in by overwhelmed owners.
By T.J. GREANEY of the Tribune’s staff Published Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Walking into the home of Deb and Dale Tolentino is like wandering onto a movie set. At least 40 cats crowd the small living space, splayed on top of cupboards, crouching inside the kitchen sink, flexing their claws on the ground. The air is heavy with fur and odors, and a visitor can’t help but feel eyes on him from every direction. In one cage, a macaw parrot whistles, and in the next a giant iguana lounges. In a corner, a tortoise has retreated inside its shell, and in another cage a python flicks its tongue. And that’s just inside the house.
Outdoors, the predators roam. The Tolentinos care for more than 200 animals, including two lions, four cougars, three bobcats, four wolves and a hulking Bengal tiger named “Tony.” Nearly all of them were rescued from owners who couldn’t care for them or did not want to, and some animals have even been sent here by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Caring for the animals, the Tolentinos said, has been their life’s work, and they make no excuses for the way they live.
“Somebody’s got to do it,” said Deb Tolentino, a registered veterinary technician. “Somebody’s got to step up to the plate. We don’t live as nice as most people, but we live better because we’ve got a lot of love around us.”
It has been a rough year for the pair who operate D-D Farm Animal Sanctuary and Rescue on North Creasy Springs Road.
In June, a tree limb fell on their kitchen, punching a hole in the roof and allowing rainwater to pour in. In October, an electrical fire damaged their barn and cut off electricity to four giant freezers used to store meat for the carnivores. The fire also cut off the electricity that heats water troughs in the animal pens. Then, in November, a second electrical fire damaged the kitchen. As a result, the couple is behind the eight ball when it comes to caring for their animals: Feeding the big and small cats alone costs $200 to $300 every two weeks.
So to help the Tolentino’s continue their work, neighbors and friends plan to pitch in and donate their time and elbow grease to rehabilitate the place. A group led by Wes Dantzler, a neighbor, plans to begin work Saturday to install new drywall, insulation, an electrical conduit, sink and a countertop in the kitchen as well as repairing the electrical wiring in the barn. They expect the work to last through about five weekends, and Dantzler considers it a way of saying “thank you” to the Tolentinos, who he believes do invaluable work.
“We can’t let somebody like that, that’s worked so hard to take care of animals that have been mistreated by so many people, sit out there and put up with that through the winter,” Dantzler said.
Friends of the Tolentinos at Joe Machens Automotive and the Columbia Post Office, where Dale works as a custodian, have also made contributions totaling about $1,700 toward the rehab project.
Veterinarian Debbie Leach has known the Tolentinos for 10 years – Deb Tolentino works part time at her animal hospital, My Zoo – and said she visits the house nearly every month to check on animals. She vouched for it as clean and responsible and said the couple deserves the help.
“It’s a really good operation,” she said. “Both of them work full time, and how they have the energy at their age,” to stay up nights “feeding baby squirrels, baby raccoons, baby possums, feeding everything, I have no idea”
On a tour of the farm, Deb Tolentino said the couple has sacrificed to take care of the animals, but they plan to keep doing it as long as they are able. She walked comfortably inside a cage and scooped a lanky African savannah cat known as a serval into her arms. Then she directed a reporter’s attention to “Kenya,” a blind Canadian lynx with eerie opaque eyes. “She’s absolutely stunning,” Tolentino said.
She said she doesn’t fear for her safety walking inside the big cat cages. She knows their moods and knows how to play it safe.
“You always have close calls,” she said in response to a question of whether she has ever been attacked. “It’s just how close you make them.”
——————————- Reach T.J. Greaney at (573) 815-1719 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: Timbavati Wildlife Park’s website says it has white lions and baby animals Felix, the lynx, goes home with owner
By Kay James,Dells Events email@example.com
The lynx is no longer surprising people in the Dells area, but is home on the farm in Neshkoro with her owner, but she’ll be back in the Dells when the tourist season starts.
The lynx’s name is Felix, and she is a Siberian lynx, also known as a European lynx. She surprised mail carrier Alan Borud by showing up at his rural Wisconsin Dells home last week.
Felix is owned by Mark Schoebel of the Timbavati Wildlife Park/Storybook Gardens in Lake Delton and makes her winter home on Schoebel’s farm near Neshkoro.
Schoebel said he was transporting Felix in a crate when the crate broke and Felix slipped out an air vent. He got her back Monday morning from the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette. She had been transferred there from the Adams County Humane Society shelter in Friendship.
Schoebel is relieved and grateful that Felix is in good shape and was not hurt during her adventure. He said he appreciated that she was found by a “gentleman” (Alan Borud) who knew to call people with knowledge about animals rather than shoot her. Schoebel also thanked the Department of Natural Resources personnel and the Adams County Humane Society for taking care of Felix temporarily. He said he planned to make a monetary donation to the humane society and will be giving some bobcats to the MacKenzie Center in appreciation of the help.
Calling Felix, a nice cat, Schoebel said she is two years old and still has a little growing to do. He calls her a Siberian lynx and said they are the same subspecies as an European lynx. It’s like some people call a mountain lion a puma and others call it a cougar. He noted that he has had several of the species and Felix was raised from a cub.