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Wild animals are not people; only people are people
The lion lay down with the lamb in the Garden of Eden. But that was a long time ago.
What goes on in the minds of animals? How much can we know? We focus on the question when a beloved pet suddenly, and horrifically, turns on its keeper or a visiting friend?
The chimp was known to the public because he appeared in commercials for Old Navy and Coke, and reportedly appeared in television pilots. On February 16, Travis (who had a less celebrated history that included violence) was acting anxiously. Herold asked Nash -- a personal friend -- to come and help settle the animal. But Travis suddenly attacked Nash, lunging at her face and hands.
Nash's injuries were grievous. We are told, "even the doctors and nurses and technicians who battled to save her life were shocked," -- which is significant considering that, in their line of work, they must see many victims of motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence, and crime.
She may also be blind and suffer brain damage, and officials are not offering great hope for her improvement. She could be a candidate for a face transplant.
But this incident was not a freak event. A wild animal kept in an urban environment may suddenly and unexpectedly rampage (which is why questions have been raised about pet ownership laws in the wake of this incident). All too typically, the stories sound like this:
Siegfried and Roy’s close encounters with big cats dazzled Las Vegas crowds for more than 30 years until things went horribly awry on Oct. 3, 2003. While performing at The Mirage, a 7-year-old male tiger named Montecore bit Roy on the neck, inflicting critical injuries. The question of whether the tiger actually attacked Roy remains in dispute. Siegfried has said that the tiger merely tried to drag Roy to safety after Roy fell on stage. On his way to the hospital, Roy reportedly said, “Don’t shoot the cat.” (They didn't.) In February 2009, the team staged a brief and haunting final performance for charity with the infamous Bengal tiger.
In the 2008 film Semi Pro, the fight with a bear was strictly for laughs. But that bear suddenly killed his trainer in April, while filming a promotional video.
Dogs and cats are not typical animals. They are very unusual, in that they are well adapted to living with and communicating with us humans safely and effectively. That's hardly a surprise; they have been bred that way for many thousands of years. Dogs, for example, are genetically very close to wolves and can interbreed with them, but dogs have little in common with wolves psychologically, in the ways that matter to humans. Similarly, your lazy fireside cat has little psychological space in common with, for example, a wild bobcat.
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