Animal inventory cycle problems

by on October 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm in Economics | Permalink

Michael Lynch writes to me:

The prices tell the story. A baby chimpanzee can go for as much as $50,000 (£31,195) or $60,000 (£37434). An adult chimpanzee has no market value. Abandoned adult animals end up in sanctuaries. But in one of the paradoxes of the exotics world, some of the sanctuaries that rescue animals also breed animals to defray their expenses – thereby, arguably, making the problem of surplus adults even worse.
The related story is here.

1 Rahul October 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Medical research would be one market for adult primates. Another market: bush-meat. What about chimpanzee rodeos?

2 rjs October 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm

there’s already millions of adult primates being used for medical research; just visit any hospital in the US..

3 Joshua October 30, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I should point out, if the sanctuaries want to keep up demand for their product, creating a supply of future abandoned adult chimps seems like a good way to do it.

4 Neal October 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I read the story as the sanctuaries have to sell baby chimps in order to pay for the current adult chimps.

(Since baby chimps become adult chimps faster than adult chimps become non-chimps, this has the self-overloading structure of a Ponzi scheme.)

5 Foster Boondoggle October 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm

$50,000 isn’t £31,195 – it’s £31,028.90, exactly (as of 2:48 pm Pacific Time on 10/30/2011).

Seriously, it’s really annoying when people convert a round number in one unit to a ridiculously precise number in another. This seems to be some weird journalistic custom – if someone says that something “weighs about 60 kilograms” the journalist will helpfully put “132 pounds” in parentheses, as if to make clear that we’re *not* talking about a figure close to either 131 or 133 pounds.

6 David Wright October 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm

+1. I remember covering significant digits in 6th grade, but apparently journalism schools have some advanced neurosurgery technique to remove that knowledge.

7 Slocum October 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm

But in one of the paradoxes of the exotics world, some of the sanctuaries that rescue animals also breed animals to defray their expenses – thereby, arguably, making the problem of surplus adults even worse.

That may be perfectly OK if it costs less than $50-$60K (plus investment returns while the chimp is in the ‘labor force’) to care for the chimpanzee during their ‘retirement’. Sanctuaries producing more young chimps who are valuable but who will eventually need end-of-life care is no more paradoxical than producing more human children about whom the same is true.

8 Moby Hick October 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm

thereby, arguably, making the problem of surplus adults even worse.

Why is “arguably” needed in this sentence?

9 londenio October 31, 2011 at 7:00 am

I read this post last night, while I was actually watching the show on the BBC (some lazy Sunday evening multitasking). Like most Louis Theroux, it is about the personalities behind these enterprises that is so fascinating. Over time, Louis Theroux is becoming something like a Werner Herzog, but with a candid, dorky image. Three facts from the show:
1. You can buy an adult tiger for $100.
2. Most sanctuaries are financed by the young animals who are sold or used for photography and to attract visitors. Like the article also says, they fulfill a social role of brining unwanted tigers and apes to a safe place. Who knows what the stationary state of this system.
3. It did not seem that these sanctuary people are doing this for the money. Some may turn a profit, but most struggle. They do it for the “cause” or just for the kicks. They “consume” the adventure of being surrounded by more than 100 tigers.

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