Finding a forever home for trafficked tarantulas
When wildlife authorities confiscate smuggled animals, the next step is figuring out what to do with them.
It’s a new day for a giant, hairy spider known as Lil’ Kim.
Things didn’t start well for her and 249 other baby tarantulas. The spiderlings were confiscated by United States Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors as part of a wildlife trade bust at Seattle–Tacoma Airport, in Washington State, in December 2018. The babies were so small that they’d been packed in deli cups and 35 mm film canisters.
Something about the paperwork drew their attention, says Danielle Abernethy, a supervisory inspector with the Fish and Wildlife Service whose territory includes Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. “Sometimes it's smuggling via documentation, where you put something on the documentation that is really similar, but it's not actually what you got,” she says.