Escudo Pygmy Sloths In the News

Pygmy Sloth

Natalia found this article about the Dallas World Aquarium and its adventures here in Bocas del Toro:  Daryl Richardson’s Dallas World Aquarium Causes Zoo Controversy

My contact with this particular venue has been somewhat limited.  My brother and sister-in-law had their reception at the aquarium when it was just getting started.  It was a cool place for a wedding reception.  At the time they had the penguins on exhibit outside.  I thought that was a little odd in Dallas, but it was well before I knew much about conservation and anything about Bocas del Toro, Panama. In fact this year it will be 19 years ago since I have stepped foot inside the beginnings of this interesting collection of animals.

The article takes a look at the history of Daryl Richardson and how he has curated his collection of flora and fauna from across the world.  As a proprietor of an eco adventure lodge, his activities in developing his various exhibits both scare and interest me.

I find his activities scary because we are dealing with holding wild animals captive for the clear benefit of one person.  The article leads one to believe that this is really a private hobby that he invites the public to see as it benefits him.  While the zoo boasts 650,000 visitors a year, how do we know if this is an correct number, the record keeping of the zoo has been shown to have its issues.  This would mean that almost 26% of the population of the Dallas / Fort Worth area visits the zoo each year and that they collect about $13.6 million in entrance fees.  Sounds like a lot to me, but maybe the visitation information is correct.

In my opinion, no person should be entitled to have wild animals held captive for their own personal pleasure even if they share them with a percentage of the public.  Captive animals should be openly shared with the public and science to learn from them.  They should be maintained in a way that they are protected and allowed to prosper.  I am not sure, based upon the information in this article and other research I have done on this collection, how well the animals are treated and what kind of documentation exists regarding his inventory of animals as he has had a registrar (the zoo’s scientific record keeper) for but a short time and it is unclear if anyone fills this position at this time.  He has brought in many animals at different times over the years only to fill in the holes created when the animals he acquired at an earlier date no longer exist for one reason or another.

I find his exhibits interesting in the same manner that I find well run zoos interesting.  Well-managed zoos and many a television show create interest in the things that one might see in the wild.  For some people it is the only opportunity they will have to see some of the fairer creatures of the world.  Very few people as a percentage of the world’s population have the ability to travel around the world to see the animals that one might see in a zoo.  Many zoos have helped save endangered species.  My preference in seeing an animal is to see it in its natural habitat, but that option is not open to all.

Bocas del Toro has had its natural resources pillaged on a number of occasions.  There are stories of fisherman of the number of fish and shellfish that occupied the waters throughout the archipelago in their youth.  There are plenty of people who are trying to make a dollar today instead of preserving the area and its flora and fauna for the next generation, but there is a growing number of people who are standing up for Bocas.  Each time I hear or see of one of these accounts, I hear Dr. Seuss’s Lorax saying “I speak for the trees.”

I am both proud and thrilled to see that Bocas was able to come together as a community to stop the Dallas World Aquarium from taking the Escudo Pygmy Sloths away in Daryl Richardson’s jet.  I applaud the work of the police officer, Angel Gonzalez and an unnamed group of people who stopped what they were doing and went to the Bocas airport to keep the animals from slipping out of Panama.  I hope the next time Bocas has an issue that needs immediate attention it gets the same type of response from its residents.  Pulling together like this goes a long way to protecting the area’s natural resources.



Additional details regarding Bocas del Toro incident:

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