The Case Against Owning Exotic Pets “Doesn’t Wash”
Colin McEnroe probably thought he was in safe territory jumping on the bandwagon of anti-‘exotic’ pet sentiment with his broadcast entitled The Case Against Owning Exotic Pets. I discovered the article , written by Josh Nilaya, before the show was recorded, and it spouted the same ol’ irritating nonsense (I can name 5 incidences where an animal defined as exotic caused an injury or death, so that means they’re too dangerous!). After leaving a comment in the article’s comment section, I noticed this statement at the bottom of the page:
“Oh great!” I thought, here’s my chance to get the other side (the rational side) of the argument out there. I thought I’d email Colin some of my irrefutable points and interesting statistics. I received this reply:
My show is live from 1 to 2 p.m. ET and streamable at WNPR.org
our call-in line is 860-275-7266
love to hear from your side
This was a lie, as you'll see. Unfortunately, I missed the broadcast, so I wrote back to re-iterate (politely) that my previously email contained a link that refuted what Tim Harrison was saying in the now available recording of the show [that despite the fact that there are millions of dogs and only thousands of big cats, the percentage of dog-related hospital-requiring injuries is still higher relative to their population].
Colin’s show contained ZERO guests that supported the opposite side. My elaborate post was basically ignored as Colin replied with nothing but a link to the article and audio I was specifically talking about.
Irritated, I sarcastically relied “Thanks for sending me the link to the article I read three days ago.” He sarcastically replied “It now has the entire audio of the show you were asking about. You're welcome.”
I was hardly “asking about” the show, I was addressing the misinformation in the conversation that he took part in, and apparently forgot about (?). I replied “Yes, the audio that I was specifically TALKING ABOUT.”
And here was his gem of a response:
“Look, I get hundreds of emails every day and struggle to keep track of them all.
I was just trying to make sure you had the material you needed.
Maybe you need to spend a little less time with your nocturnal pet and a little more time out in the sunshine acquiring social skills.”
So there you have it. Colin McEnroe does not care about a balanced interview in the least bit. His site encourages emails, tweets, and calls, but apparently you are only acknowledged respectfully if you say the right thing, or agree with his ignorant view like a brainwashed tool.
It is notable that he attacked me personally when I had done no such thing to him, describing my dedication for my pet as an indication that I lack social skills, a very common criticism from anti-weird pet people who don’t appreciate people who happen to have different lifestyles from their own.
It isn’t terribly surprising. Colin is a radio personality, not a thinker, and he is fully ignorant to the subject of exotic pets. He’s probably been educated about so-called wild animals from cartoons and movies.
What about Tim Harrison and Tippi Hedren? Two people who are way more experienced with dangerous exotics than I can possibly imagine?
Well, I could barely distinguish their comments from the stupid remarks of Colin.
Tippi was a privileged actor and former exotic pet owner, and Tim is also a former exotic pet owner—his past laden with many negligent offenses such as keeping a big cat cub in his basement (I’ve learned this from his own brother, Jim Harrison, the director of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo).
Colin begins his interview (after a very stupid, unfunny skit) of these two numbskulls by stating
and“We are basically in favor of not having exotic pets…”
and“There are all kinds of ways that this plays out that are not be good for the animal and maybe not good for you.”
“I kinda screamed when I heard Tippi Hedren was going to be on the show…”
Basically, he’s star struck by Hedren, and already has his mind made up about exotic pets even though he barely knows anything about them, perfect.
and“I don’t want these in people’s homes for the public safety aspect of it and also for the animal’s safety too…”
“Chris Rock said it perfectly. He’s my big cat expert …
...the tiger didn’t turn on Roy, the tiger went ‘tiger’, and that was the greatest tiger show ever put on stage because that's what a tiger’s spose to do [Chris Rock said]. It’s not supposed to do magic tricks, jump through hoops…perfect house pet right? No. This is what we’re up against.”
NO ONE who advocates for exotic pet ownership advocates keeping animals in unsuitable environments like keeping a fully grown tiger in a house. I’m tired of explaining this, and I had to explain it to two people in the comment section as well.
You can advocate horse ownership without encouraging people to keep horses inside houses, right? Also, the weak, emotional argument about what animals are ‘supposed’ to do is useless. None of our pets, domesticated or otherwise, are “supposed” to do anything.
Harrison and Hedren regularly make up specious ‘arguments’ that appeal to people’s ignorance and misconceptions about alternative pet care. While Colin keeps trying to probe more into Tippi’s interesting past with her vast collection of “working” big cats for her film Roar, Tippi seems to want to deflect that discussion to parrot out more irrational nonsense about captive animals.
Here is a full quote regarding Roy Horn:
“Yes that tiger was really going right into instinct mode, uh, Roy had a stroke on stage, and it’s the instinctive dictate of these animals to take out, any being , animals, human, whatever, if they’re sick, old, uh, whatever. And um, poor Montecore had to say “gee sorry Roy, you’re my best buddy, you raised me fed me with a bottle and, we’ve had a lot of fun and you’ve taught me how to be so elegant up on stage but, you’re sick and I’m sorry, I have to take you out.”
I could not verify this bold claim about animal behavior anywhere. In fact, it sounds like a myth, and a stupid one at that.
Tigers in the wild are solitary and do not have ‘buddies’ that they kill once they begin to wither. Wild tigers form large territories and want nothing to do with each other aside from breeding. Why would they risk their health killing a weaker tiger for no reason? In fact, I could only find one page addressing the claim—a non-scientific site but it made a ton of sense regardless—and they had this to say about healthy animals dispatching the dying and old:
“We’re not sure where these ideas come from. Perhaps it’s from not-too-scientific nature shows or a twisting of Darwinian ideas of natural selection. First of all, there is no known mechanism for nature to "purify the gene pool". Killing the old and the sick doesn’t have a direct benefit to the species as a whole. In fact, animals which are healthy and robust enough to make it to old age have already made their contribution to the gene pool. And it’s not as if the youngsters all get together and decide that killing the old will benefit everybody.”
Not to mention, if the tiger really wanted to kill Roy, without a doubt, he would be dead. I suspect Tippi is the type of person that, due to her status and influence, is never corrected regardless of how wrong she is.
Later in the conversation:
Colin: "I do want to talk about the state of laws here, I mean,… I’m guessing if I have a tiger I have an elephant, um somebody’s gonna come to my house…
“But I also assume there are a lot of things that I probably can own, that there are monkeys birds, reptiles, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, sugar gliders, things like that that I might want to own and I’m guessing, maybe I shouldn’t own them, but.. I would guess they’re also, aren’t gonna necessarily be laws that I can’t?”
Just in case you were wondering if these dunces were only discussing large and dangerous animals, they aren’t. Collin seems to think suger gliders (which he later says he DOESN’T even know what they are) , birds, reptiles, and hedgehogs are something he’s 'guessing he shouldn’t want to own', and get this, he even later says he has a clownfish.
Harrison replies that you can’t say a prairie dog isn’t dangerous because of zoonotics, something he fails to realize exists also in dogs and cats, and is rare to occur severely in both.
Colin brings up that someone will call up and say that dogs kill more people (they didn’t) or email him (I know at least one person did, but he didn’t give a damn) than exotics.
Tipi: “None of those statements wash”
Harrison: "You got maybe 10000 to 15000 cats nobody knows for sure. You got millions of dogs. So the statistics go against what they’re saying. You need a license for a dog but you don’t need anything for a lion."
Colin: "It seems to leave a very important part out of the description anyway…"
As previously stated, I have shown that the statistics still hold up to our claims. I have yet to see any animal rights activist actually look at them. They seem to mindlessly assume that just because there are millions of dogs, that must mean that incidences from them are, percentage-wise, smaller. Not that exotic pet ownership is only OK if it is less dangerous than dog ownership. What sense would that make?
This next part of exchange is inconceivably idiotic.
Colin talks about how he used to want an ocelot as a kid because he saw one on TV.
Colin: "What would you have told my parents if they called you up as they often did and said “Collin wants an ocelot” what should we tell em, what’s the answer to that question?"
Tippi: “OK you’re dealing with an apex predator. These are top of the food chain, which means they have instincts that you cannot control and they’re..they, it’s their duty to take out any old sick lame, whatever. Or, it’s just of whim, that they have to take care of, in their own brain."
Again, she repeats the myth and enhances it into a fictional “duty” of apex predators.
Speaking of apex predators, when I specifically search for it I can find some sites that call ocelots apex predators, but according to the definition of apex predators (no natural predators) an ocelot is not one because its natural predators include harpy eagles, anacondas, jaguars, and pumas.
Being an apex predator also doesn’t mean ‘you can’t control it’, if that even means anything. All animals have ‘instincts’ whether they are an apex predator, herbivore or scavenger, period.
Tippi: "They don’t even like us. These animals don’t care about us. It’s we who think they’re so beautiful and so wonderful."
This just isn’t true! Big cats might accidentally kill their trainers but they are simply animals. They can care about you but be prone to accidental instinctual fits. My dog cares about me yet she growls angrily if I get too close to her food bowl because of an instinct, that yes, even dogs have!
Tim talks about lionfish being turned loose in Florida, and Chinese Carp.Colin: "I got a clownfish that’s not the same as having a cheetah. Tim what’s your answer to that?"
Tim: "But when you talk about clownfish, I think it’s a disrespect."
"But when you have your clownfish, tell me the truth, do you think that clownfish is going to be totally happy in that aquarium for the rest of its life? Watch Finding Nemo and then make that decision."
After Colin idiotically admits to being an exotic pet owner despite his cheerleading of Tippi’s nonsense, Tim goes on to cite a simple-minded and overrated (trust me on this) cartoon as a good source to see why clownfish shouldn’t be kept in aquariums.
Tim also mentions Chinese carp, an invasive species intentionally introduced by farmers of catfish intended for human consumption.
In other words, Asian carp aren’t the result of any ‘pet trade’, but I guess the exotic pet trade is to blame for everything, including what it doesn’t cause. Let’s ignore the domesticated animal trade, which includes goldfish, a domesticated carp that has also invaded waterways.
And last but not least…
Colin: "Tippi do you feel the same way about some of these smaller animals I mean people get prarie dogs and hedgehogs and sugar glider, I mean, I don’t even know what a sugar glider is" (then you have no business taking a stance on this issue, ignorant idiot, this debate involves knowing some basic facts about animals including what they are).
Tippi: "On our education programs when the students come, my main statement is NOT. ONE. WILD. ANIMAL should be a pet. Whether it’s a little squirrel in your backyard or a Siberian tiger. NONE of them should be a pet. And that should just be a law, learn to respect those animals in their own environment…do NOT bring them home and put em in a cage. You’re either going to kill it, because it will die of a broken heart [WTF]..um…"
“…I don’t even approve of the zoos, I feel so sorry for those animals….”
Tippi is an idiot for sure. I challenge her to even properly define what a ‘wild animal’ is. She is against any so-called wild animal, which probably translates to ‘only dogs and cats should be pets’, irrefutably dumb logic.
She also declares that she’s against all zoos and feels sorry for all the animals in them (does that include her own?). Tim Harrison doesn’t fully take a stance against zoos, but still is an obvious fan of Tipi and her unbelievably dense statements, saying ‘but Tippi said a beautiful thing…’.
Therefore, these two just can’t be taken seriously. Tippi and Tim have virtually no excuse for the displays of ignorance present in this interview, only the ditzy novice Colin does. Understand that when you deal with animal rights, you deal with delusions and non-facts.