Living With Animals: I Got It On-Line

Ken White, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA

June 2, 2017

An oft-heard comment, a sign of our times: “I got it on-line.” Those few words can signal a great deal (half what I expected to pay!), or a long sought treasure (a 1940s Martin Ukelele!), or the decline of brick-and-mortar neighborhood shops, or something much darker yet. “I got it on-line” can mean acquisition of something which should not have been available. From actual contraband (drugs, ivory, illegal weapons) to stuff which most of us would imagine prohibited, the internet functions as a lawless marketplace where anything and everything can be found. For a price. Animals are not safe from the ugly side of the web.

It took no special skills or knowledge but only a few keystrokes to find: “Gorgeous Black Neck Spitting Cobra For Sale.” The ad continues: “This snake is approximately 6 feet in length. As their name states, these snakes are able to shoot venom from their mouths usually at the eyes as a form of self-defense and hunting with deadly accuracy and distances recorded up to 6-8 feet. Click here to Order Now!” A few more typed words led to the following for sale: Beaded lizards and Gila monsters (the only two species of venomous lizard), baby snow macaque monkeys, fishing cat cubs, Galapagos tortoises, owl monkeys, black back jackals, a four year old serval, diamondback rattlesnakes, kangaroos and wallabies, camels, Russian fox, bobcats, wolves, porcupines, wild boars, cottonmouths, Great-Horned owls, squirrel monkeys, American alligators, pit vipers, Colobus monkeys, lynx, kinkajou, pigtail macaque, zebra, tiger, various species of scorpion and tarantula. Ads for giraffe and lion noted that the animals were currently “out of stock,” shoppers encouraged to stop back soon.

I’m told, by an extremely knowledgeable and reliable source, that virtually any animal you can name – no matter how rare, how endangered and “protected”, and of course no matter how inappropriate both for the animal and for the humans involved – is available from the web’s darker corners. How very sad.