About two months ago my son (who is six) was invited to go to the Reptile Discovery Center, located in DeLand, Florida. This is about 30 minutes away from where I live. He went with friends and had a great time, asking if he could go back again. So I booked it as an event for our nature club.
Today was the day that we visited the center. Overall we had a great time. The place is very interesting, fun, and we learned a lot. The only one downside I saw was the bucket of dead baby chicks that were being fed to the alligators (the alligator had been taken and allowed to live out its life there, after someone had it as a pet and didn't want to keep it any longer). The bucket of baby chicks made me sad. These little creatures, no doubt a by-product of the meat/egg industry, barely got their start in life and were dead and in a bucket to be fed to alligators. I realize the alligators eat meat, so if not the chicks it would have been something else, but I couldn't stop thinking about how they barely lived before they died.
Anyway, that's not my point with this post. The main attraction at the Reptile Discovery Center is the "milking" of the snakes, which is how they collect venom. The venom is then injected in small amounts into a host animal (like a horse or sheep) and it builds antibodies. Those antibodies are used by the pharmaceutical company to make antivenom. If you were to be bitten by a venomous snake you would need the antivenom to stay alive.
As a vegetarian or vegan, we may find it difficult to support what is going on at the center. The snakes are held captive, milked regularly, handled, etc. They do not live out their lives in what would be a natural snake fashion. Yet I sat there and wondered... I know many vegans would be dead set against what was taking place there, but if they were bitten by a venomous snake (or if their child was), would they accept the antivenom to save their life?
I think that the logical answer to this question is that yes, indeed they would be willing to accept the antivenom in order to live, or save our family member. As such, we must then support what is taking place at the reptile center. As far as I've seen there is no synthetic antivenom, so we must rely upon this life-saving method. While we vegans and vegetarians may be ambivalent about what is taking place, in the end, it is something that could save our own lives one day.
Just thought I'd write on this topic because I thought a lot about it while there. We don't like to see the captive animals, but if you are willing to take the antivenom you must support it taking place. It's as simple as that.
Here are a few pictures from today: