"Lizard King" by Bryan Christy

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Madkins007

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"The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers" by Bryan Christy. 121 pages.

I did not expect to like this book- tales of dastardly smugglers of my favorite animals? Disgusting.

The thing is... Bryan Christy puts a very human face on several aspects of the issue- he does not demonize the smugglers or sanctify the law enforcement agents. He explores several elements and 'layers' of the issue- its origins (that seem to literally stem from a photo of an albino python in an older issue of National Geographic).

Seeing a peek under the covers of zoos, pet shops, breeders, and so forth is fascinating as well- the different mindsets, some minor 'scams' that were common 'back in the day', etc. One example was releasing parakeets that could not fly well in a nearby park, then spend the day selling cages and feed to people who rushing in after 'catching a bird over the park!' The way Christy presents it, you are about equally upset and intrigued by the activities.

Amazingly enough, I found a review on Amazon by another big name in the herp world, Bill Love, who also enjoyed the book and brought up the element that the loss of wild herps from smuggling in many cases was easily off-set by true captive breeding that sprung from this- a situation suggested at in the book as well.

I used the phrase 'true captive breeding' since, in the book, some 'captive breeding' farms and operations in some countries were more of a front for taking wild caught animals and housing them long enough to enable the dealer to get 'clean paperwork' on them. Lots of intrigue and schemes are mentioned. It would be interesting to know how much of it still goes on.

Like I said, I ended up really liking this book. I am not sure it is going to change the way I do anything since I mostly get my animals from individuals.

I would also LOVE to know what some of the people here who know some of the people and companies in the book think of it since I am sure there are other sides to all of the stories in the book!
 

Yvonne G

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I read this book several months ago and was very intrigued by it. I recognized several names and was surprised to note that folks I thought were quite honest, were involved in the illegal aspect of it.
 

Madkins007

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I agree Yvonne! One thing that caught my attention though was that few of them thought they were doing anything 'wrong'. That got me to thinking...

I tend to think of the smuggling trade, CITES, etc. as black and white, good and bad, but the people in the book thought about it all in very different ways, as did some of the people who commented on the book and who have an 'insider's view'.

I began to think about some of my jobs, and how different things are from the inside than the outside. I've worked for some non-profits that from the outside are thought of as squeaky-clean knights in shining armor types, but from the inside are just as screwed up and nasty as any other company.

I thought about companies I have worked for that were perfectly willing to bend or ignore laws when it suited their purpose, and did not think of themselves as bad in any way for doing it- they usually thought they were smart, or watching out for the customer or shareholder, etc.

Heck, I even began to think about me and the law- nudging speed limits, fudging taxes, taking 17 items through the 15 item lane... so I really cannot cast stones at people in the book. (Well, at least not BIG stones! :) )
 
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