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.-Who is Rick C. West?

Born on December 3, 1951, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I’ve worked primarily as a Chief Constable for a local animal Humane Society for 29 years but I have also pursued my main passion for the outdoors, nature photography, travel and the study of various subjects of zoology ... primarily the collecting, breeding, rearing and photography of theraphosid (tarantula) spiders. I am happily married to my wife, Lynn, and have three grown children and two grandchildren.

.- What specie was your first tarantula?

Aphonopelma eutylenum Chamberlin, 1940, was the first tarantula I collected when I was 13 years old on my relative’s property outside of San Diego, California, USA.

.- Of all the species that you know and with you have treated, which one have you fascinated more?

Poecilotheria metallica Pocock, 1899, was the most exciting discovery for me in which I was present when it was re-found after more than 100 years from when it was first described.

.- How many tarantulas does your collection have and how many different species do you have?

I have had as many as 5000 tarantula specimens (including newborn offspring), as well as scoprions and centipedes, but that was a lot of work, so, now, I do not breed common tarantulasand have this collection down to about 250-300 live specimens … I do not know how many different species I have but it is many :).

.- What did your wife said you when she discovered that you enchanted tarantulas?

Did you get much effort to convice her?

It was hard on my wife. At first, she was afraid of them but, gradually over time, she came to like and respect them for what they were and supports and encourages my work with them. Our ‘House Rule’ is that my spiders and scorpions must never get loose outside of my ‘spider room’! If they do, my wife may reconsider them being kept in the house. Needless to say, I am very careful.

.-Which is the positive part and and the refusal to maintain these animals in captivity?

I will pass as this question. As this is a pet-oriented website, I do not wish to enter into debates over my own personal held views on the (at times volatile) ethical and moral subject of keeping wild and/or exotic animals in captivity without just cause and just for the pure pleasure of it.

.- Of all the trips that you have made since you study arachnids, which do you remember with more affability? Which of them do you wish to forget as soon as possible? How many travels have you made altogether?

I have travelled to 25 countries to study and photograph tarantula spiders. The most enjoyable and memorable trips were Venezuela and India. So far, I have not had a bad trip, I have enjoyed all of them. I have made over 60 trips since I have started to travel in search of tarantulas to study.

.- Do You have discovered, through your work any new specie?

Many, my desk top is full of them!!!

How many species do you think they are about to be discovered?

There are approximately 883 valid species of theraphosidae (The World Spider Catalog, 2006) in the world but I believe this is only 60% of the known theraphosidae. Many more are waiting to be discovered and described.

.- Do you think governments of the different countries make enough efforts to study, to protect and to catalogue the native species?

No, not at all. Corruption and/or poverty, at all levels in some countries, is common. With so many people struggling to stay rich, or just to survive, wildlife is the last thing that is worried about for protecting or is often the most exploited resource.

.- How many tv documentaries have you participied?

I have participated in seven tv tarantula documentary films and helped many others as a scientific consultant and advisor.

.- What projects do you have for the future?

I am working on three tarantula/scorpion TV Film documentaries and, unfortunately, I cannot discuss the details other than say they involve filming tarantulas and scorpions in Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, French Guiana and Dominican Republic.

.- Do you think you’re the “Indiana Jones” of tarantulas?

No. Just Rick West … I try not to think I’m a famous adventurerer or person. I am basically a shy person that does not like a lot of attention. I pursue this work and these trips for my own pleasure and interest.

.-We want to deepen a little and to know you a little better. Answer fast and very briefly to the following questions:

- A tarantula?

- Impossible to single out one, there are so many nice species. Poecilotheria metallica, Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens and Theraphosa blondi are a few of my favorites.

- A scorpion?

- Same as for the tarantula answer, but, I like all Pandinus and Androctonus spp.

- A country?

- I have been to 25 countries but Venezuela, Peru, Kenya and Malaysia are my favorites.

- An aracnologist?

- The late Dr. William Baerg and Raymon Mascord and the present day Drs. Samuel Marshall and Rogerio Bertani who have supported my passion for tarantula spiders.

- A food?

- Steak, seafood, pizza or oriental food.

- Outdoor activities?

- Gliding, caving, fishing, photography, camping, hiking.

- A song?

- None specific

- A film?

- ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘Titanic’ (modern version) … among a few.

- A woman name?

- Lynn … after my wife

- A drink?

- 1 is Rye (Crown Royal) and 7-up, then Gin & tonic or Rum & coke and, lastly, beer if nothing else is avaliable J … not big on wine!

- A colour?

- Greens and browns … natural colours.

Rick West


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