By James Bresnahan, Wired staff writerSan Diego’s Desert Museum has been accused of violating the California Human Rights Act for its treatment of snakes in captivity.
On Wednesday, the museum announced it would donate $10,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to support the legal defense of the reptiles.
“The desert museum has always prided itself on caring for and serving the people of the state of California and we are honored that it has chosen to help defend this important and rare species,” museum spokesperson Jennifer Williams told Wired.
The California Human Right Act states that a public institution may not “deny or unreasonably restrict the free exercise of religion or any other right,” nor deny or unreASONABLY restrict the exercise of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
In this case, the Desert Museum “is using the same tactics as other private entities that are attempting to suppress speech,” ACLU attorney Ben Crump told Wired in a statement.
“It appears that they are using the law to silence the voices of those who disagree with them.
We hope that other private organizations follow suit and take similar action.”
In this video, the desert museum’s Desert Snake Project shows the desert snake the tortoise it is named after.
A study released by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences last year found that reptiles in captivity can suffer from a range of health issues, including respiratory and digestive problems.
The institute said the Desert Snake Program would focus on “the health and welfare of the Desert Fox and Desert Tortoise” in captivity and the public should contact the museum to arrange a visit.
“We appreciate the museum’s generosity in donating this significant amount of money,” said Crump.
“We are hopeful that this donation will help protect these precious reptiles in their habitat in California.”