Saturday, May 5, 2012

What part of "wild" do you not understand?

Veronica and Archie were on the trip of a lifetime.  It was her birthday, so what better present than to take the opportunity to pet the cheetahs?

Wait a minute.  Cheetahs?

This is one of those stories where your first reaction is "Oh my goodness, how horrible!" and if you have half a bit of sense about the behavior of animals your second reaction is "Is this woman crazy?"

I don't have a particle of ill will toward Veronica.  I hope she heals quickly and without problems from the injuries sustained during her attack.  I feel very sorry that this had to happen to anyone, and respect her greatly for stepping in and trying to keep the cheetahs from harming that little girl.  But...........

I hope this resonates with people who will give a second thought to risky actions such as this.  For no matter if they were hand raised, fed by humans, cuddled and trained and socialized, these are not pussy cats.  They are wild animals, with all their instincts and skills intact, and not a bit blunted by contact with humans.  They may have learned some new behaviors around people and damped down their primal instincts, but it doesn't take much for those primal instincts to come out - with deadly results.

Make no mistake, even your house cat is a cute little furry killing machine.  Cats are not much removed on the evolutionary tree from the wild cats, large and small.  (Did you know that they can interbreed with some small wild cats?  That means that they are not genetically different from them.  Think of it.  You have a little wild animal in your house.)  Domestic cats have learned that association with people can be very handy, to enjoy and seek out our company, but everything that makes the feline a supreme hunting specialist is still in there.  Don't tell me that you haven't seen it in action.  You are playing or petting your cat and something sets them off, a little too rough play, a little too much stimulation, and ....whack!  There are the claws or the teeth.  It might merely last a fraction of a second, but you have just looked the wild beast in the eye.

My cat Molly has done that on rare occasion;  she has the good graces to look properly embarrassed afterward.  Other cats in my past did it too.  Something in what you were doing woke up the ancient instincts.  Now, just imagine a cheetah.  It's not domesticated, just barely tamed.  Maybe there was a disturbance that upset it.  Maybe that little girl moved too quickly.  For whatever reason, the wild came out.  And poor Veronica got the brunt of it.

It's disturbing to me that people are so removed from nature, red in tooth and claw, that they don't see these creatures for what they are, magnificent and regal and most of all, wild.  I am also disturbed by those domestic/wild cat crossbreeds that are available as pets.  The further the generation from the wild antecedent, supposedly the more domestic its behavior, but I don't know.  Sounds like an incident just begging to happen.

Let's cherish the creatures of the earth in their natural habitats.  Learn from them, enjoy the spectacular sight of them, but not try to make them into what they are not.  

Let's leave the wild animals in the wild.    

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