Welcome to Pieter Kat's official LionAid blog. Here you can follow Pieter's opinions, thoughts, insights and ideas on saving lions.
Thursday 20th October 2011
You will all have heard by now of the incident in Ohio where a private owner of a great number of wild species opened all cages before taking his own life. An apparently disturbed man who was still allowed to own a large number of firearms including automatic weapons, who had been served many citations for animal cruelty, and who was well “known” to local law enforcement officials.
The regional sheriff mobilized his forces and shot dead 49 animals including 18 tigers and 17 lions and many bears… He has come under criticism for his actions, but he basically had little choice. You don’t get much advice in law enforcement courses about how to deal with tigers and lions and bears running around neighbourhoods where you are supposed to protect citizens. The animals were released close to dusk, no dart guns were available, and the sheriff took what he felt was the only option open to him.
So they were destroyed. But one does question that same sheriff and animal welfare associations as to why this man was allowed to maintain his menagerie. Especially since he had been cited for animal cruelty and even imprisoned for illegal firearm possession. Ohio is supposed to have some very lax rules about individuals owning exotic species, but surely having a huge number of lions and tigers and bears on a property might have caused a bit more than casual concern. Apparently and strangely it appears it did not.
Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation commented on the CNN website to correctly point out that such individual and irresponsible ownership of exotic species has no role in our society. His comments were overall good – keep wild species in the wild. But unfortunately you do have to read through an incredible amount of promotional statements for Born Free that frankly distract from what should have been a straightforward message. CNN, for example, allowed this paragraph:
“In Texas, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary provides permanent, safe, naturalistic and free-range accommodations for more than 500 macaques, vervets and baboons, many of whom have been rescued from captive lives of stress, deprivation and danger -- danger to both the monkeys and to their "owners." Relevant or self promoting? You decide.
But we agree with Born Free that private ownership of animals kept in often deplorable conditions should be banned immediately. Unlike animals kept in enlightened and progressive zoos, such captives are only there for the entertainment and perhaps commercial interests of their owners. The USA should very carefully evaluate animal welfare guidelines already well established in the UK. Time for the US SPCA and the HSUS to get a bit more active? And for the US and State Governments to pass some very strict laws about possession of exotic species?
Posted by Pieter Kat at 21:26
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