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Reader's View: Cat attack shows need for tighter controls

It's nearly impossible to avoid accidents with how many dangerous animals there are in captivity, but it's not a coincidence that big cats especially seem to pop up in the news more often ("Shocking video shows wildlife park owner being dragged, ...

It’s nearly impossible to avoid accidents with how many dangerous animals there are in captivity, but it’s not a coincidence that big cats especially seem to pop up in the news more often (" Shocking video shows wildlife park owner being dragged, mauled by lion after entering enclosure ," May 1).

Big cats are very intelligent animals, and a lack of stimulation can be dangerous in such animals. They are also very social creatures, but there are many examples of them being untrustworthy in terms of human interaction and perhaps even unable to truly bond with humans. Lions and tigers that have been raised from cubs and appear friendly toward their keepers have suddenly snapped and attacked them when the keeper becomes too comfortable. These factors could very well be the case for the incident at Marakele Predator Centre in South Africa.

Big cat sanctuaries are needed because of many reasons, but I think stricter rules and laws concerning safety need to be implemented, not only for the keepers but for the cats who are put down due to these incidents. I wasn’t able to find much information about Marakele, but incidents like this should always be further investigated. There’s always the possibility that it was just a fluke, but with the amount of sanctuary malpractices all over the world it never hurts to double check.

There are some red flags pointing to the possibility of malpractice at Marakele, such as that the lion that attacked was hand-raised and that the sanctuary owns white tigers (which are rare in the wild and oftentimes inbred for entertainment purposes). Many aspects of the sanctuary are highly commercialized, and there are reports of the keepers kissing the tigers.

While investigating the incident is a must, investigations shouldn’t just happen when accidents arise. For the sake of keepers and animals, there has to be more regulation in sanctuaries and zoos.

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Anna Schopf

Cloquet

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