Collins is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Collins also earned a BS and MA from the University of Nebraska. Collins is currently working on a dissertation in Animal Geography.
Collin's PhD work is on exotic pet mammals in the USA. A part of this work includes collecting surveys from exotic pet owners from all over the country.
"My idea for the dissertation stemmed directly from dealing with exotic animal laws and animal rights activists," said Collins. "There are so many claims going around about exotic animal estimates, and when I actually investigated I discovered that no one has ever really attempted to find out the truth of these numbers."
Collins continued, "You can literally throw out any number you like online, and people will pick it up, repeat it, and it magically becomes 'fact'. As a science-oriented person that horrifies me."
According to Collins, the initial idea was to attempt a comprehensive survey and try to reach the many exotic mammal owners however, found it wasn’t practical. Since 2008, Collins has been focusing on cataloging and interpreting the exotic pet laws for all 50 states. "Quite a daunting task; keeping track of 'exotic animal attacks,' (these range from inconsequential scratches to the well-publicized deaths, and now finally getting the survey started)".
According to Collins, the focus is on mammals for many reasons, because there are fewer mammals than reptiles, fish, and birds owned, because most of the publicized material about exotics tends to be about mammals and occasionally reptiles and because there are few laws regarding reptile, bird or fish ownership nationwide, but many regarding mammals.
"I do not imagine I will reach everyone – or that everyone who sees it will fill it out – but the more people who do this survey (and do it honestly) the more data I will have to back up my research and the better the outcome. I think that if real information is gotten and published, rather than sensational ‘attacks’ and random misinformation, it can only be good for both the animals and their owners."
If you would like to see "real information" rather than all the sensationalized drama please do your exotic pet and yourself a big favor and fill out Gabrielle Collins' survey!
Exotic Pet Survey
Gabrielle Collins is a parent of three children (ages 22, 19, and 9). Collins has been teaching part-time as a geography and geology professor/instructor for colleges and universities in the Omaha/Lincoln NE area, as well as some online teaching.
Collins has been an exotic pet owner, "I have been an exotic owner for many years. While I have mostly had the traditional cats, dogs, fish, birds, and rats ect I have also owned degus, snakes, and a fennec fox". Collins named the fennec fox Loki.
Collins has also been very active with volunteer work concerning exotic pets and animals. "I have volunteered both at my local humane society and with Nebraska Wildlife Rehab."
Collins became involved with an organization call EPOU (Exotic Pet Owners United,) "We were highly active for many years in regard to keeping up with, analyzing and opposing exotic pet bans/laws all across the country. I became an EPOU e-list moderator in 2002 and also designed and maintained the EPOU.org website for many years".
"Sadly, EPOU is now defunct as a practical organization, but I hope one day to revitalize it once my dissertation is completed."
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