Birds, rhino, boar attract bidders
By Erikah Haavie, Poughkeepsie Journal
Friday, October 20, 2006
CATSKILL, NEW YORK Marc Johnson came to the Catskill Game Farm hoping to film footage for a documentary on the problems of the
exotic bird trade.
Instead, he left Wednesday with four vervet monkeys, a Patagonian cavie, a yellow-backed lorry and two African porcupines.
He wasn't planning on the porcupines, but after hearing a taxidermist might be interested in stuffing them, he bought them, too.
Johnson, a resident of Rockland, Mass., was among the animal rights advocates who purchased animals during an auction at the Catskill Game Farm this week.
The zoo, home to more than 150 animal species, finished its 73rd season as a family-owned business earlier this month.
Animal advocates had previously protested the auction, expressing concern animals could be purchased for canned hunts or otherwise exploited.
Llama, yaks, pygmy donkeys, alligators and tortoises were among the animals up for sale.
Advocates for Game Farm Animals, the Coalition for Game Farm Animals, Wildlife Watch, Tusk and Bristle and Foster Parrots were among the
groups who rallied together before the auction.
Within days, the groups collected tens of thousands of dollars to buy animals, said Jim Van Alstine, a Palenville resident and chairman of
Advocates for Game Farm Animals.
Groups primarily focused their efforts on "level ones," animals they felt were at high risk of being slaughtered.
A seven-member team of advocates bid together and purchased a range of animals, including a white rhino, a European boar, a warthog, pot-
bellied pigs and rabbits.
The four monkeys were purchased for $4,000 and a rhino for $5,000. Johnson said he bought a Patagonian cavie with an injured leg for
$100, due to lack of interest by other bidders.
"One hates to have to pay for the animals to save them," said Johnson, director of Foster Parrots, a rescue and sanctuary for parrots. "We felt this was a really special situation."
Johnson said the four monkeys will be delivered to a privately owned zoo in New Jersey as soon as he can arrange transportation.
He's still looking for a home for the two porcupines.
Van Alstine said all animals will have somewhere to go, whether it be short-term foster care or permanent homes in sanctuaries.
Most animals are still at the game farm and will likely be moved this weekend.
Kathie Schulz, one of the farm's owners, has said she wasn't worried about the auction, since people wouldn't be able to bid on animals without proper credentials. She said many of the exotic animals, such as bison and watusi cattle, would be kept by her family.
Erikah Haavie can be reached at email@example.com
Foster Parrots Ltd.
781 878 3733
"If you have to cripple a creature in order to keep it as a pet, maybe you should rethink its suitability as a pet."
- Peter Wien -