Magazine article International Wildlife

Pets, Chimps and Sport: Bringing Culture to Wildlife

Magazine article International Wildlife

Pets, Chimps and Sport: Bringing Culture to Wildlife

Article excerpt

Pets are deeply ingrained in the cultures of Central America-not just dogs and cats, but creatures plucked from the wild. In Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, you can easily buy wild animals on the street.

To get a better sense of what this means for conservation, we sent longtime contributor Steve Hendrix and photographer Lynda Richard-son to investigate. They got their first taste of the story early in their visit when their driver rolled down the window: The car was instantly surrounded by men displaying everything from macaws to a margay cub. (The seller in the photo is peddling collared aracaris to passersby.)

People in Nicaragua often take home animals like these. Sometimes their wild pets become members of the family. At one rural store, a parrot greeted Hendrix and Richardson, then called out to the proprietor, an older widow, to wait on them. "A little later, widow and parrot sang a duet hymn for us," Hendrix says. …

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