This weekend, my husband and I watched a new documentary called “The Elephant in the Living Room”. At first, I thought it would another movie about people with exotic animals as pets, but this was so much more than that. The movie follows an Ohio law officer who deals with exotic pets and their misplacement in our society on a regular basis, while explaining the exotic pet subculture along the way. One of the main stories throughout the movie dealt with a man who was given a lion cub as a way to help him out of his depression, and several years (and more lions) later, he begins the biggest fight of their lives, struggling to keep the pets he’s come to love in a place that doesn’t want them.
This movie was a real eye opener about people and the subculture of exotic pets that most of us probably don’t believe is a problem. But it certainly is, and as more and more wild animals (poisonous snakes, crocodiles, lions, spiders and much, much more) make their way into our natural world because their owners have lost control or don’t know what to do with the “pets” anymore, the general population is at risk. You can get a bit of a feel for the movie here (but I’d recommend going out and renting it this weekend!):
I’ve talked in the past about some great books we have at the library about people who start up their own “zoos” after purchasing a few exotic animals, and the lack of regulations in Canada especially, that allow people to do this. Here’s a link to a past post. If you’d like to read more about the problem, feel free to come in and ask for some books about the subject. I can see this problem getting worse as the world makes it easier for people to bring in animals and purchase animals from breeders without having enough knowledge about the risks. One of the most frightening things they showed in this movie were the live auctions, held in barns and arenas, for the purpose of selling exotic animals to the general public. To see a young boy of five or six proudly holding a baby crocodile or a container filled with a rare venomous snake is terrifying. Not only are people putting themselves in danger, but once they tire of these animals, they’re being let go in the wild. Wouldn’t you love to come across a 9 foot python in your backyard someday? The people in Florida are having just such a problem. Because of some stupid person, pythons are now breeding in the everglades and animal control officers say they won’t ever be able to eradicate the beasts from the area now. Pythons are there for good.
(Did you know that almost all of the exotic animals you see at Ray’s Reptiles shows have been rescued….and from places as close by as Brockville! Think about that the next time they show up in our area with that giant yellow snake! That was someone’s PET at one point!)
Okay, enough ranting for today. Go out and see the movie. Talk about the idea with your kids. Come in and get some books. Educating ourselves is the only way we’ll gain control over something like this.