ARACNOFILIA: The Italian public misunderstands exotic animal
owners, and thinks that raising spiders is an insane passion, only
for crazy people...
S. A. SCHULTZ: By many peoples' point of view,
yes, keeping tarantulas *IS* insane. But 50 years ago, so was
flying in an airplane! Times change. So do people. Sometimes even
for the better! With luck the ones who have ossified beyond redemption
die of old age before they can do any real damage.
the number of visitors at oursite is growing on a day-to-day basis.
Many do seem to be sincerely interested in raising tarantulas
at home. How do you explain this growing interest in arachnids?
S. A. SCHULTZ: Perhaps the general public is
bored with the "normal" animals they find in pet shops
and is seeking new, interesting alternatives to traditional pets.
Or, as the public becomes better educated the traditional constrictions
on their conduct and interests are being loosened, allowing them
to explore more unconventional pursuits and interests such as
rock climbing, sky diving and amateur arachnology.
can we further encourage it?
S. A. SCHULTZ: At every opportunity members
of your society should be talking about arachnids in general and
tarantulas in particular. Members should offer to do free school
programs, set up booths demonstrating their pets in shopping malls
and bazaars and do free programs for scout and other specialty
groups. Eventually the media (newspapers, radio, television) will
take notice and send camera crews or reporters to high profile
members' homes for interviews and "photo-shoots." At
all times, these members must be cautious to present their pets
in the best possible way. This is a slow, sometimes painful process,
but eventually public attitudes will change.
Some find fault with us because they think that all tarantulas
are imported from foreign countries, abducted from their natural
environment and thus impoverishing the eco-system they're stolen
from. Do you think it's possible to reconcile the love of nature
with this "private" entomology?
S. A. SCHULTZ: This a matter if miseducation
on the parts of militant but unenlightened conservationists. Unfortunately,
these have misinformed both the public and our governments, thus
jeopardizing the survival of most wildlife and our interest in
it. Their underlying philosophy holds that we should leave these
animals and plants in their native habitats where they can exist
forever in blissful harmony with their "environment."
There are 3 serious objections to this philosophy: 1. Most of
these same people have only an extremely vague concept of what
"the environment" is and certainly can not give a lucid
definition of what the term means. Therefore, they really have
no conception of what they're arguing for or against. Thus, we
have a case of the blind leading the blind. 2. Because of the
current rate at which habitat is being destroyed (We use the euphemism
"developed."), most of the animals that are threatened
or endangered will disappear regardless of how many are exported.
Removing these animals from their natural habitat ultimately will
have no effect whatsoever on the survival of the wild populations.
3. In captivity, many of these creatures will have a passing chance
at survival in captive breeding populations maintained by enthusiasts,
a possibility which doesn't exist if they are allowed to be exterminated
in the wild. This has already happened with Syrian golden hamsters,
Peruvian chinchillas, Burmese pythons, Argentine pearlfish and
many other species If done wisely and under enlightened control,
the exploitation of wild populations can actually serve to increase
the numbers of plants and animals in the wild. This has happened
with whitetail deer and largemouth bass in North America, for
importance do you think should be attached to the enthusiast organizations
groups like ours, and those around the world?
S. A. SCHULTZ: These groups serve as the foci
for learning and education of the "common man." They
bridge the span between the lofty, often distant and unapproachable
professional arachnologist and the man on the street.
you think we serve a useful purpose in the world of arachnology?
S. A. SCHULTZ: Of course.
How can we improve this relationship?
S. A. SCHULTZ: Education and public relations
for arachnids in general and spiders in particular.
ARACNOFILIA: Many parents write to us asking
us to dissuade their children from raising spiders as pets because
they believe spiders are too dangerous.
S. A. SCHULTZ: Obviously these people need to
be introduced to tarantulas gently by someone who knows what they
really are and can come across in a desirable way. When the parents
contact your organization, someone should ask them to their homes
to see what tarantulas are really like. The philosophy is "If
you're going to object, at least know what you're objecting to."
staff, while web-surfing, found a young girl that possessed twenty
tarantulas, and that particular site is sponsored by the local
police department. What do you think about this?
S. A. SCHULTZ: Great news. Maybe the public
is finally waking up a little. We need a lot more of that sort
Stanley A. Schultz,
President, AMERICAN TARANTULA SOCIETY
interview by Matteo Grotto
visualizzare l'intervista in lingua italiana.