Some more on the Ohio wildlife slaughter today. I’m quoted in The New Scientist and in this Washington Post story. My actual quote about allowing people to keep dangerous carnivores was, “It’s the same as having a loaded gun with a child in the room.” That part about the child in the room is the key line. Loaded guns don’t kill people anymore than teeth do. But add a small child or a large animal to the mix and you have a chance for disaster.
I’m being asked why people keep these animals. With all due respect to Jack Hanna’s work for animals, one reason certainly is when he and others go on talk shows with fuzzy and cute animals on leashes. When the bobcat or the lemur or the chimp in diapers jumps on the desk it looks like something one could have at home. When Dave Letterman pets the snow leopard and says, “Gee, Jack this fur is so soft!” there may be some benefit in public awareness, but there is certainly somebody out there who watches the same moment and says, “Yea, I want one of those, too.” If they have the money, and it does not usually take much, the only thing they need to get one is the internet.
Reality TV has blurred the line between home and wild. Shows like Fear Factor, in which people were made to eat mass quantities of live insects, or stick their hands in piles of snakes, turn animals into objects. They diminish our respect for wildlife. Note that very few pictures or video taken in Zanesville Ohio show the actual dead animals. That is the real reality tv, and it would do everybody good to see it.