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This documentary film by Michael Webber talks about exotic animals who have become common household pets in the United States. It came to the Crew’s attention from The Tiniest Tiger on Twitter. This film follows two characters: Tim Harrison, a decorated police officer, firefighter and paramedic who has captured and rescued literally hundreds of lions, tigers, alligators, bears and deadly snakes, all in the United States and Terry Brumfield, an animal lover who has bottle-fed and hand-raised two African lion cubs in his home.
Watch the Movie Trailer:
Go HERE to discover more about this controversial film.
The CatAWhack Purrspective
The Crew can appreciate all purrspectives…
A bond forms between the individual or family who has embraced what has been seen and accepted by mainstream society as a ‘wild’ animal. This animal may have been raised, nurtured, and socialized with humans from the time of infancy. He becomes an integral part of the family. He is loved and he loves back through body language (playful snuggles, paw taps, eye contact, affectionate gestures) and verbal greetings. He sleeps with children in the home without incident. No signs of aggression are observed or warranted in a ‘safe’ environment. There is a love and a familiarity that extinguishes all fear.
I spend day after day with my canine companion. Although I did not raise Renshu from a puppy, we have been together since I discovered him three years ago injured on a busy interstate. Through his recovery and rehabilitation process, he showed me how he responds to physical discomfort and pain, stress, and unfamiliar circumstances. I’m familiar with his temperament, his behavior, his responses to the familiar and the unfamiliar, the way that he relates to other animals and humans. Although I know that he has the anatomical features characteristic of a canine and the strength and physical capabilities to bite me, harm me, or attack me, I know that it is extremely unlikely because of what I know, my experience with him, and our interactions. I also know that he would refrain or have no reason because of the level of trust and safety that has developed through our daily interactions. However, if he wandered far from home, was in unfamiliar territory, was approached by other humans who were fearful of him or wished to do him harm, how would he react? Wouldn’t it be a natural form of defense to strike poses of intimidation, to use verbal cues to encourage people to back away, and even attack if cornered or approached in an aggressive or fearful way?
How would I feel if my canine family member was shot and killed simply because no one was equipped to respond appropriately?
The Crew does not agree with the shooting or killing of these, in many ways, defenseless animals if preventative means or appropriate recovery efforts can be employed. We would prefer that killing be the last resort and only if another life is immediately and directly threatened.
There are people who get involved who have no experience in animal behavior; humane tracking, trapping or tranquilizing; or organizing an effective approach that considers the safety of all involved including the animal.
An approach recommended by the CatAWhack Crew would involve the following:
- Establishing a response protocol that can be initiated in the event of an occurrence (interventions and assistance from animal behavior specialists, experienced trackers, etc.; the use of trapping equipment and tranquilizer guns)
- Establishing the best means and methods to notify people in the area
- Establishing consequences for unsolicited responders who turn the recovery into a hunting expedition
- MOST IMPORTANT! Acquiring the assistance of the animal’s human family members and caretakers. Those who KNOW the animal know the best means and methods for approaching and recovering the animal while minimizing or eliminating the potential risks to others.
Some may argue, “Who is going to pay for the equipment, time, and personnel needed to recover the animal?” Should those who own exotic animals be asked to pay an annual fee that covers the expenses associated with an unanticipated escape and recovery effort? Is there an organization that could lead this effort by collecting fees, having recovery resources in centralized locations, training personnel and having professionals on call in counties or locations that have wild life sanctuaries or households with ‘domesticated’ exotic animals? Would those with exotic animals be willing to pay for stand-by services composed of trained professionals who would ensure the safe recovery of their family member? Wouldn’t this also alleviate some of the fears of those living in communities near exotic animal households, refuges, and sanctuaries?
Some may also argue, “Those who have exotic animals should be required to register them with responding authorities and be subjected to regular inspections of enclosures to prevent escape. If deficiencies are found, they should have a prescribed amount of time to repair or enforce enclosures or face penalties or fines.”
Most people just want some reassurance that they are safe…that they can count on someone to respond quickly and effectively in the event of an unexpected event. We can understand the concerns of residents living near refuges or sanctuaries with exotic animals or living within close proximity to households with exotic family members.
They may have the following concerns:
- Is the caretaker of the animal(s) providing responsible care?
- Are the enclosures secure?
- Has the animal ever been aggressive?
- Was it raised from infancy around people or was it acquired later? How will this affect its socialization?
- Will I be contacted if the animal escapes?
- If the lion, leopard, cougar, elephant, zebra, ostrich, baboon, etc. ‘escapes’ from their familiar environment and wanders into my yard, what are the potential risks?
- Does the animal have the potential of becoming aggressive out of fear, confusion, or self-protection?
- Although you claim that the animal is tame and socialized to humans, it is not bonded to me and would be in an unfamiliar environment…Does it have the potential of responding in uncharacteristic ways?
- What is the best way to respond if I encounter the animal in my environment?
- Who do I contact if I see the animal out of its enclosure?
It is normal for people to fear that which they do not understand; that which they have no emotional tie to; that which they are unfamiliar with; that which they have formed particular beliefs about. The veil of privacy or secrecy prevents people from communicating, cooperating, and feeling comfortable.
We don’t want to suggest that we have the answer, that the answer is simple nor do we want to suggest that exotic animals should be regulated. We DO want to suggest that the needs and rights of all affected parties be considered, that the lines of communication remain open, and that the actions involved with animal recovery be conscious deliberate responses rather than reactions .
We would like to know what you think. Please post your comments below.
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