Abandoned Exotic Pets Threaten Ecosystem

A 4-meter-long Burmese python was seen slithering along. A ball python was shying away from equally startled onlookers. An Emperor scorpion scuttled,while a crocodile swimming upstream was drawing curious looks.

These exotic creatures were not found in rain forests, deserts or swamps.They were captured near the concrete jungles of Japan’s urban centers.

Government officials suspect these animals were once kept as pets, but either escaped from their owners or were abandoned as they grew too large to handle.

Officials fear the growing popularity of “alien” species as pets will lead to more foreign creatures proliferating in the Japanese wild, wreaking havoc on ecosystems.

“This is an issue that involves the morale of pet keepers,” said Katsuhiko Shoji, who heads the ministry’s animal-protection office. Nikaido said an American dealer keeps reptiles in Indonesia in a jungle-like enclosure that is a big as four Tokyo Domes.

Environmentalists and government officials say if these creatures are not caught in time, they could proliferate and cause irreparable damage.

link [www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200509280293.html]

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