To celebrate ASP’s fifth birthday, we’re sharing five inspiring stories with you — a new one each week through the end of the year. You’ve probably heard that Facebook is matching $7 million in donations today for Giving Tuesday. While we don’t expect to get that match (it goes fast to the biggest organizations), we greatly appreciate our Facebook supporters Terri and Bongo for setting up fundraisers, and to everyone who donates there! Now onto the story:

Male Western Diamond-Backed Rattlesnake at the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

Male Western Diamond-Backed Rattlesnake at the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

In March 2015, I traveled to a place I swore I’d never go, to an event I didn’t think I could bear to see. But Jo-Anne of We Animals Media and I decided it was important to bear witness to and document the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup.

So there I stood at the pit, smelling the fear and hearing the screams* of thousands of rattlesnakes about to be slaughtered for entertainment and profit. As I looked into the eyes of one male Western Diamond-Backed Rattlesnake, filled with blood from rough handling, I promised him that we would fight to stop snake slaughter at rattlesnake roundups. And we have.

We changed the way rattlesnake roundups were discussed by mainstream media. The criticisms we raised in our campaign were covered by more than 50 outlets: both international outlets like The Guardian and National Geographic and Texas media, including the Houston Chronicle and El Paso Herald-Post considered the snakes’ side of the story for the first time and discussed the controversy surrounding roundups.

Wall of Shame by Jo-Anne McArthur

Wall of Shame by Jo-Anne McArthur

But the roundups persist, so our work here is not done. “The Wall of Shame” (taken by Jo-Anne during our 2015 trip) was selected as a Highly Commended image in the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. As this exhibition goes on international tour, many people will learn about these horrific events for the first time.

We’re also working with young author and advocate Grace to raise awareness with the next generation of rattlesnake roundups. Learn more about how to help those efforts here.

We hope you’ll consider supporting snakes today. For the cost of a fancy coffee drink on your way to work, you can help us change how people view and treat snakes. Celebrate Giving Tuesday with a $5/month pledge to Advocates for Snake Preservation.

 
*Rattlesnakes rattle when scared, their version of screaming.