Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wild Animal Slaughter in Ohio Could Have Been Prevented

By now, most everyone has seen the images of huge Bengal tigers laying dead, shot by police after 50+ wild exotic animals were released to roam through the Ohio countryside.  The owner of the animals, Terry Thompson apparently opened all the cages and set the animals free just prior to turning a gun on himself and committing suicide.  Police and authorities tried in vain to use tranquilizer guns, but for the safety of the populace in the area, they had to kill most of the creatures.

The tragic events are even more tragic when you realize they could have been prevented.  Ohio has the most permissive laws when it comes to owning exotic animals.  So, the personal collection of someone like Thompson is unregulated and a problem just waiting to happen.

The whole thing could have been prevented if people understood that taking exotic animals out of the wild and keeping them as pets is a really bad idea. 

In my younger years, I had a chance to actually help raise a lion cub. Pasha, would occasionally spend the night at my apartment, and I got to know first hand the problems of raising a wild animal in a domestic situation.  First there was the whole potty training thing.  I had to walk her to prevent the stench of lion urine from permeating my house.  Though she was on a leash, it was a dicey situation.  Looking back, I am amazed myself or my friends were not hurt while interacting with the lion cub.

Though it was fun, and she was an amazing animal, I would never do it again.  Lions belong in their own habitat or at least special protected habitats where they can behave like lions.  Walking on a leash is not a lion behavior, and though Pasha was pretty good, she was in reality a wild animal just behaving like a domestic cat.  That was the illusion.

I never had any permanent scars, but my friends who helped raise her did have a few nasty looking scratches that lasted for years.  Pasha was returned to a zoo once she got about as big as a German Shepard.  She lived the rest of her life in captivty with people who understood how to care for her and kept her safe from humans and vice versa.

So, I can say with authority, that though exotic big cats look really cool on a leash, they belong in the wild not your home.  I can also say that the loss of all those animals could have been prevented if there were stricter laws in Ohio about their care and possession.  Maybe this will be a wake up call to the legislators and potential exotic animal owners.

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