Over the last couple of weeks, a number of the zookeeper and exotic pet listservs I subscribe to have read more like the classifieds in the back of Field & Stream. Obviously due to the recent tragedy at the San Francisco Zoo, these are boom times for the tranquilizer gun business. I thought I might share a little about what I’ve learned.
Blow Guns - Good for short range, especially in cages. Wait a minute, blow guns!? Yes, and apparently they have come a long way since our great-great-grandfathers (or in my case, my uncle Jon) used them to score monkey dinners from the tree tops.
Dart Guns – Larger dart guns are typically pump or CO2 powered and are best for animal escapes when you’ve got plenty of room to shoot. These devices frequently use an explosive charge to inject the chemical cocktail and can take 15-20 minutes to have an effect. Therefore they are more often used in field research where an animal can be darted and tracked by air or vehicle until it goes down.
(more below the fold)
Net Guns – Yes, you heard me right. Net guns aren’t just for cartoons anymore! These apparently are a good choice when you can’t fire a dart gun because people are in the way or when you want to act out your favorite scene from Alien versus Predator.
Apparently your best bet for quality certification in “Chemical Immobilization of Zoo & Exotics Species, Non-human Primates, and Captive Deer & Elk” is Safe Capture. At first I thought this organization was like a University of Phoenix for some kinky-subset of the NRA crowd, but upon review they are definitely legit. Their program instructors appear to be impeccably credentialed, although this last character raises some eyebrows:
Officer T. Scott Stephens, Rangemaster
Officer Stephens served as a Marine Corp Small Weapons Firearms Instructor (MOS 8531) and Rifle Range Coach from 1992-1996. He is certified in the use of M16, M249SAW, Mark 19, M60, 50 Cal. M2, M203, Glock Armor, and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. (I did not make this up)
Anyway, they offer courses around the country and although the $500 price tag is a bit steep, this would make for one pretty freakin cool birthday gift for that special someone who is impossible to buy for…
Workshops in a Town near You!
Louisiana: Baton Rouge: LSU School of Veterinary Medicine: February 12-13, 2008
Georgia: Athens: University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine: February 23-24, 2008
New York: Lake Placid: Hilton Lake Placid Resort: February 26-27, 2008
California: Corona: (East of Los Angeles) City of Corona Training Center: March 3-4, 2008
Texas: Brenham: Washington County Fairgrounds: March 13-14, 2008
(This program will discuss only Deer, Elk, and Exotic Hoofstock)
North Carolina: Charlotte: Charlottte-Mecklenburg Police Dept: March 17-18, 2008
California: Morgan Hill: Morgan Hill Police Dept: March 31-April 1, 2008
Arizona: Phoenix: The Phoenix Zoo: April 3-4, 2008
Connecticut: Bridgeport: Beardsley Zoological Gardens: May 6-7, 2008
Virginia: Fredericksburg: Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy: August 18-19, 2008
Florida: Kissimmee: Holiday Inn Main Gate East: September 15-16, 2008
Wisconsin: Stevens Point: UW College of Natural Resources: October 25-26, 2008
Missouri: Saint Charles: Busch Conservation Area: December 8-9, 2008