FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Star Eco Station

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 15•17

blue bird

This was different than the Pet Store.

Instead of seeing dogs, cats, fish, turtles, crickets, hamsters and guinea pigs, we saw an alligator, two foxes, a 100-pound boa constrictor, and an assortment of reptiles and birds rescued by the U.S. Fish and Game Department from human traffickers.

And instead of D waving his hands in front of birds to make them fly around crazy at the Pet Store, I hoped our visit to Star Eco Station, a rescue station for over 200 exotic animals, would generate compassion in him for the plight of illegally trafficked animals

Hey Boss,” D said, beckoning me to follow him in the middle of our tour. He had wandered one room ahead, and I was torn between staying with the tour or responding to his overture.

It was the Bubble Room scene from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Grandpa Joe and Charlie drink a “Fizzy Lifting” soda and float up toward a giant steel fan before burping their way back down.

I had a choice to make of staying with the tour and listening to our guide or checking out what D had discovered that was so exciting: a frisky grey and brown fox running around in its cage.

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I knew what D was probably thinking about Nick Wilde, the fox character from  Zootopia, one of his favorite movies. A black fox with a frightened countenance was in another cage.

We found out every animal had a back story. I was missed the names of the foxes (Zeus and Sunny, D told me later), and how they endec up at the rescue station. However, these are a few of the animal stories I did hear:

Someone in Texas shipped ten baby alligators in a Fed Ex box to Los Angeles by plane.

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The 100-pound boa constrictor lived in 20 pounds of his own feces because the owner was too scared of his own pet snake to wash or clean it.

A blue parrot plucked out all of its chest feathers due to stress from working on a Hollywood movie.

An enormous two-foot turtle was found in a trash can at the airport.

***

We learned Star Echo Station exists because smuggling exotic animals into the US is a multi-billion dollar business, and animals snuck into the US are crammed in suitcases, stuffed in cardboard tubes, taped to human bodies, and stashed in Fed Ex boxes.

turtle

Our tour guide informed us many of the exotic animals found by custom officials arrive dead on arrival or are so traumatized or injured that officials have no choice but to put them down.

Those who survive the transport conditions often die from inadequate care or are abandoned on rural roads by their owners. Many others get placed at the gates of zoos–who are unable by law to take donated animals–or have difficulty surviving away from their natural habitats.

I wish I could say that D or I became more compassionate towards animals from our visit, but to be totally honest, I was more focused on taking pictures than letting the stories of animals’ abuse sink in to my consciousness.

And I not sure just how much of the information D managed to take in—or how the animals’ experienced could be classified as abuse—and is if he has a reference point for what abuse is.

However, as I was writing about our visit to Star Echo Station—especially the individual stories of the animals—I felt a desire to go back and listen better to their storied to develop compassion for animals in general.

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