Wild Things

Please, leave wild animals alone.

In the course of my life, I have known many people who have attempted to keep wild animals as pets. It has never turned out well. I am not refering to exotic animals, no tigers or chimps, just the kind of wild creatures we all run across in America.

When I was a boy, I had a friend who cornered a possum. When it played dead, he quickly put it in an old cat carrier. The boy was quite handy and his dad always had materials around, so he put together a nice little chicken wire pen and turned the terrified animal loose in it. His dad came home and told him that this was a bad idea, but the boy persisted, and dad relented. For two days, it refused food and water. On the third it was dead. His dad told him that there was a lesson there. Wild animals want their freedom. The possum died of fear and a broken heart.

This was in South Florida, where alligators were very common, and no threat. Leave them alone and they do not bother you. When we were fishing one summer afternoon, a friend found a baby gator. He caught it, built a pen for it, and decided he had the coolest pet ever. His folks thought it was cute, at least until it grew to about two feet long. One afternoon the boy was feeding it raw chicken. Usually he just threw it into the pen. This time he decided to see if it would eat out of his hand. It did, and took two of his fingers with the chicken. Not the gator’s fault, he was just being a gator, but the boy’s father killed it. He had to. It was used to being fed there so if they just turned it loose, it would have just kept coming back, something the neighborhood did not need.

Later, when I was in college in Tallahassee, a friend found a young eagle, injured, and of course decided to nurse it back to health, despite the fact that he had no idea what he was doing, and the fact that it was illegal to keep these birds. He fed it, provided water and, yes, the bird did regain health. He kept a leather thong tied to its leg and built a post for it to stand on. He fancied that he would become a falconer, I guess. Instead he lost an eye when he decided to begin its training. When the ambulance arrived and they saw the cause of the problem, they called the police, who called wildlife officials, and my friend got into a world of trouble. The eagle was taken to the wilds and set free.

I could go on. I have known people who have tried taking in squirrels, rabbits, black snakes, rattle snakes, raccoons, pigeons, crows, mocking birds, and just about every other creature you can think of. This is a terrible idea. They are simply not tame and have no interest in being tamed. They are all wondeful creatures. Please, if you see one injured, call the wildlife authorities or animal rescue. In all other cases leave them alone to live their lives as they are supposed to, free. Just sit back and enjoy them in their world, not yours.

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  1. Eiddwen

    On July 27, 2012 at 6:43 am

    So very interesting and thanks for sharing.
    Eddy.

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