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Here you will find information, musings, and pictures about life, the natural world and writing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Tragedy in Zanesville, Ohio

I break blog-silence and interrupt work on Threatened & Endangered to mourn the disaster in Ohio--49 of 56 escaped wild animal shot to death. Most of them were carnivores--lions, tigers, bears. Read about it HERE.

What a horrible outcome to a damaged man's hobby. But how surprising is this, really? What individual can afford to feed and care for that many animals properly? Who would take them if he became disabled? Who wants to live next door? Keeping dangerous animals as pets has got to be one of the worst ideas "animal lovers" can come up with.

Oh, and let me add here, that the vast majority of these private collections make zero contribution to conservation. Especially if they breed tigers. No one outside the pet trade and the traditional Asian medicine trade has any use for mongrel tigers. Read that again--there is no conservation value to tigers or any other wild animal bred outside a planned breeding program coordinated with other institutions. Zero.

This is about people trying to feel valued and loved by surrounding themselves with charismatic creatures. This is about the humane care of wild animals who are totally under the control of people. This is about what happens when private collections are celebrated and envied.

Ohio will take another look at its laws, among the laxest in the nation. Many people will urge tight controls over exotic animal ownership. Those who already own exotic animals will fight hard to prevent this, probably on grounds that they shouldn't be punished for the mistakes of another. As far as I'm concerned, keeping any dangerous wild animal (and most of them are dangerous) as a pet is the mistake. The pet owner may benefit emotionally, but the animal suffers an unnatural life and the rest of us are at risk. Sanctuaries are stuffed with discarded wild animal pets. Enough already.

Cheetahs in the wild. Just to cheer me up.