The show “Hoarders” is an inside look of what happens when people have too much of a (questionably) good thing and cannot let go of their possessions.
There’s usually a deeper reason for their hoard, stemming from a past trauma or difficult experience that leads people to yearn for a sense of control that has otherwise been stripped away from them.
Similar factors are at play with people who hoard animals. There are plenty of horror stories about people who have far more animals than they can care for until they drive their homes, finances, and lives into a state of extreme disrepair.
When people who get into these states genuinely care for animals but just don’t have the means to keep up with them, we tend to understand and have a bit of empathy.
But when people have an insane number of animals in poor living conditions because they’re trying to make money off of those poor animals, it’s more difficult to empathize.
Recently, officials cracked down on what they think may have been a major source of a growing problem. Over the past 20 years, the radiated tortoise from Madagascar has been on a steep decline.
Now listed as “critically endangered,” these tortoises are rare and expensive. Their unique shell patterns make them interesting and sought-after.
But how did authorities find this cache of exotic reptiles? Did they get an insider tip? Well, they investigated primarily because of the horrible smell emanating from the house.
Soary Randrianjafizanaka, one head of the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology, and Forest, said the stench was unbelievable.
“You cannot imagine. It was so awful. They had tortoises in the bathroom, in the kitchen, everywhere in the house.”
As is the case with most animal hoarding situations, the house in Toliara, Madagascar, was filthy. Both stories were full of these reptiles, and covered in waste and dead animals.
After conducting a thorough investigation of the house and its contents, around 10,000 of the endangered tortoises were found: 9,888 tortoises were alive, and 180 were dead.
When the authorities discovered the house, the two people living there were out in the back, apparently burying dead tortoises.
Both of those people and a third believed to be linked to the operation have been arrested.
The living tortoises were taken to a rehab center in the area. Unfortunately, many of them were in rough shape and over 500 died despite the care the rehab center was able to give them.
“We don’t know exactly who the big person is,” said Randrianjafizanaka, “but we know there’s a big boss.”
While this is not the only operation that has been smuggling the endangered species out to collectors, it’s one more group that has been stopped from perpetuating the decline of this beautiful creature.
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