Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Real Life And Fiction Intersect

Last week, we all saw the terrible tragedy unfold in Ohio when 56 exotic animals were shot to death after being let loose from their compound. More than one person commented on how they were reminded of SECTOR C on hearing the news and seeing the grim photos.

I'm glad the actions in the novel seem realistic in light of this event. I'm horrified that such things actually happen. One look at my avatar/bio pic and I think you can understand how deeply this event affected me.

THIS in Ohio was preventable before the animals were let loose. As soon as their cages were opened, though, the conclusion was inevitable.

On the same day we learned about the fate of these exotic beasts and the man who owned them, the Today Show ran a segment on the possibility of cloning mammoths and one team's certainty we'll see a baby mammoth within a handful of years.

The science is now. The events in SECTOR C are sadly only too plausible. Like real-life events themselves, SECTOR C doesn't wrap it all up in a tidy ending.

The book also asks you to think about what you would do in similar circumstances. Would your reaction to the killings in Ohio be different if you lived in a surrounding neighborhood? Do you think officials acted too hastily? Could there have been another way to handle it? Could the outbreak in SECTOR C be handled differently? Should it be?

Just how much is the life of an endangered animal truly worth?


Jennifer said...

This whole story is bizarre and heartbreaking. The picture you post...there are no words. What a sad, sad waste.

One of the articles I read indicated that the animals captured alive would be returned to the dead owner's wife. I don't understand that.

We human animals are not very good shepherds of one another or the animals that we share the planet with.

vkw said...

We are poor stewards of everything that has been given to us.

I have a view that may get me lynch. I am so very sorry this happened to these animals. It breaks my heart. If I had my way the possession of all exotic animals would be banned, except for those that are licensed and can provide proof they are financial capable of caring for the animals for the life of the animal.

Though, I am heartbroken this happened, I take some solace that the animals are no longer suffering from neglect and captivity.


lexcade said...

This was heartbreaking, and you're right, it was avoidable before those cages were opened. I don't know what the owner thought would happen after he opened the cages.

It's terribly frightening how far science has already moved and how far it intends to move. Cloning mammoths is only the beginning...

Jo-Ann said...

My kids were distressed when they saw the item on the news. I was, too. I saw the images, but did not take the words in, so I'm not sure about the circumstances. But - it was a private collection, yeah? The comments seem to suggest the animals were deliberately released? How disgusting!

My view is that while we continue to encroach on wilderness and destroy forests and other habitats, species will continue to be threatened and rely more on zoos (public and private) for conservation.

In a way, these large carnivores were lucky as there will always be wealthy people vain enough to keep them for boasting rights (I assume they enjoyed some sort of quality of life in captivity before they were released). At least their genes will continue to contribute to their species' diversity. It's the less glamorous creatures (marine creatures, reptiles, invertebrates) who are equally threatened that will never find their way into anybody's private collection that I feel even more concerned for.

So, go on, let's go and protest at governments who open tracts of forests to logging and mining before they destroy more fragile ecosystems. And let's cut down on our own consumerism.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Jennifer: I can't begin to imagine what the owner's wife is going through right now. I saw video of her visiting the 6 survivors in the Columbus Zoo. I don't know how much a party she was to everything, but I'm betting the back-taxes and cleanup are going to fall on her before she'll even be considered a fit owner again. Heartbreaking is truly the word.

@vkw: The double-edged sword of no-kill shelters is that there simply isn't enough room or enough fosters to handle all the animals. What happens to the excess? What happens inside the head of animals who live in cages for years on end? I do agree on stricter licensing, but by sane government officials.

The home where I initially brought my iguana (she was a surrender to an educational facility) was in a city where iguanas were on the ban list. Not for the iguana's protection but for the protection of the neighborhood. Yes, a vegetarian lizard was considered a neighborhood threat. A ban to help keep animals from becoming surrenders would make sense, but the laws being passed are often arbitrary and not focused on the welfare of the animals themselves.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@lexcade: It's going to be interesting to see what happens. When we can make more, what will we do with those already made?

@Jo-Ann: Yes, the animals were deliberately released and the owner committed suicide right after. What's coming to light is that his preserve existed because of lax animal laws. He owed $70,000 in taxes and perhaps was having marital issues as well. I've read where there were some documented animal abuse charges too, but those could simply be charges for having an exotics facility or they could be for true neglect - I'm not clear on that.

You're right, of course, in mentioning the KIND of animal makes a difference. I'm sure public opinion would have been quite different if it had been 50+ endangered vipers and cobras released.