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Beetles Are His Ticket to Ride

from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

TUNJA, Colombia - Cooing softly in baby talk, German Viasus gently uses a toothbrush to bathe the little animal he has raised since infancy and then pampers it with a fresh meal of mango, bananas and melon. The object of his affection? A beetle the size of a hamster with a hard, shiny shell and 2-inch-long horns.

Viasus, 36, is a Colombian entrepreneur who is exploiting the beetle-mania sweeping Japan by raising and exporting hundreds of the creepy-crawlies every month.

He has become a fearless (in more ways than one) pioneer of Colombia's somewhat belated effort to promote the legal exploitation of its biodiversity, a stunning variety of plant and animal species that is second only to Brazil's.

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