Hey PETA, that’s kind of what’s supposed to happen

About a month ago, I presented a passionate defense of the mandatory study of my major – biology – in schools. I ended off the post by sharing a truly horrifically graphic video that even I couldn’t make it all the way through. The article I’m writing about today is just about as disturbing — though fortunately, it doesn’t include video — but the bottom line is the same: we need to do a better job with biological literacy.

An undercover investigator working for PETA — the kind ag-gag laws are trying to outlaw* — helped California police shut down the warehouse of an exotic animal distributor housing over 20,000 rats, snakes, and other reptiles. The warehouse owners were charged with 106 counts of animal cruelty and 11 counts of torturing or cruelly killing rodents.

*If camcorders are outlawed, only outlaws will have camcorders.

The details are pretty disturbing, and Newser was kind enough to share some of the lowlights:

Many [of the animals] were dead and maggot-ridden, and the rest had to be euthanized, the Press-Enterprise reports.

The smell of disease, urine, and feces overwhelmed the rescue team when they entered the exotic-animal distributor in December, the AP reports. Cleanup efforts cost the city of Lake Elsinore some $94,000. Animal rights groups, including PETA, had been investigating the company; PETA used an undercover informant who shot video of employees. Investigators and activists reported shocking cruelty:

  • Animals were starved and dehydrated, and “some were literally eating each other alive”;
  • Workers fired BB guns at animals;
  • Video shows employees swinging a rat by its tail;
  • Animals were slammed into objects and thrown in trash cans;
  • Snakes were transported in deli cups.

The company, which was opened in 2009, had a carbon dioxide chamber for euthanizing animals, but they were “repeatedly killed … in a very cruel, violent manner” anyway.

As I said, pretty horrific stuff, and I hope they throw the book at these people and more. But I have to say, one of the article’s examples of cruelty struck me as considerably less shocking than the others — the first. We’re talking about a warehouse full of rats and snakes. As a biology major, I feel safe noting that they’re kind of supposed to be “literally eating each other alive”:

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