Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jaguar Attack


No, this is nothing like a "cougar" attack; this is a real big cat attack, right here in little ol' Frederick. A woman was attacked and nearly killed by a jaguar and remains in critical condition in the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma unit.

You see, we have a zoo of our own just north of Frederick, in Thurmont, called the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo - a big name for a zoo that is said to be less than wonderful to its animals. In all fairness, I haven't been there. Some of the comments left on yesterday's news story at the newspaper's website and some things told to me by a friend who used to work there led me to this conclusion.

I don't like zoos much, particularly the smaller ones that don't have a lot of space for the animals. My dislike for zoos began when my oldest, my daughter, pointed out to me when she was little that the animals were unhappy and that she didn't want any part of supporting an enterprise that was cruel to animals. Out of the mouths of babes, eh? Kids are supposed to like zoos, parades, amusement parks, and circuses. Not mine. They were always more interested in how the animals were cared for than anything else, so we didn't go to such places or participate in such activities. This is why I haven't been to the Catoctin Zoo.

What happened there? A rather new employee/caretaker was doing some maintenance in the jaguar enclosure. She'd been working there for about a month as a big cat keeper, but somehow she made the near-fatal mistake of not securing the part of the enclosure where she'd be working. The 200-lb cat attacked and nearly killed her.

It brought a little gasp of excitement to our small town, but it's incredibly sad. There is no talk about putting the animal down - which is wonderful news. The cat was only acting on instinct, and it was not the cat's fault that a mistake was made. Usually, however, any animal that attacks a human - for whatever reason - is "put down" even when a bit of human error or stupidity is to blame. I felt this way when Tatiana attacked the boys who taunted her and got into her enclosure; I feel this way now.

It isn't that I don't understand the zoological and anthropological desire to provide wildlife preserves to protect and study a small population of wild animals, but I don't necessarily agree with it. Sometimes it leads to a bad end for the animals, sometimes for the zookeepers.

Peace - D

[photo credit]

14 comments:

Daryl said...

I agree .. human stupidity shouldnt cost an animal its life ... but things like this wouldnt happen if people didnt cage up animals who belong in the wild

Maggie May said...

That must have been terrible.
I agree with your girls about the zoos and circuses that house large animals in small cages. As a child I went to circuses and was always upset when we visited the menagerie and in the end I refused to go.

Shouldn't put the animal to sleep if it was a human error...... that I agree with.

Akelamalu said...

I've never understood the concept of destroying animals that attack stupid humans who put themselves in danger. :(

Jay said...

I hate to hear of an animal being destroyed because of stupid humans, so I'm pleased that there is no talk of killing this cat. People who keep wild animals in captivity should understand the risks, and if they don't, it's not the animal's fault.

It's equally tragic when dogs are killed because their owners have failed to understand basic dog 'rules' or have allowed their children to tease them. It's one of the things which gets me really hot under the collar. I think it would help enormously if everyone read a basic dog psychology and social behaviour book before being allowed to have one. Pipe dreams ...

Sandi McBride said...

There is nothing in life sadder to me than zoos, especially the little petting zoos and monkey islands...in 1991 we had some people here in our county who kept exotic animals. A white tiger escaped his confines and killed the couple's 4 year old child. After trying unsuccessfully to tranqualize the big cat, they shot and killed it. Two lives lost that day...and all because of the selfishness of man.
Sandi

ConverseMomma said...

Oh, I am so with you on this one. I hate zoos. They are so depressing. I would love to take my children on safari, to see real animals, in real habitats. Maybe, one day.

Ruth D~ said...

I had a zoo conversation with a friend recently. Sad places. I share your feelings.

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

A terrible accident but I agree that zoos and the circus with animals are very cruel and your Daughter was right as I often used to think that the animals all looked sad and bored...
maybe it brings a little bit of excitement to their lives when a human absent-mindedly enters their enclosure without securing it, a kind of sport for them, turning the tables on humans.
George Orwell's "Animal Farm" comes to mind...
Hugs,
Donnie XX

SandyCarlson said...

This post brings up lots of memories. We have a smallish zoo nearby. The animals are prisoners. Yet....sometimes I think the only way kids can learn about the wild is by visiting these weird places. And if they resent them enough, they will care enough to make a difference. By the light of day, I feel this is twisted yet effective.

I guess I don't believe we are stewards of the earth but fellow travelers and that we need to be humble on this road.

Deb said...

My feelings echo the comments above. Best wishes and a speedy recovery to the zoo worker who was attacked.

By the way, I find this new format to be easier to read than the pink background - although that was pretty.

Take care.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I am so glad they aren't punishing the jaguar. You and I know each other's minds on this one.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

I'm so very glad the jaguar wasn't put down. I'm like you. It saddens me to no end that we destroy animals because they act like animals.

Anonymous said...

Most of these poster's opinions are based on heresay from others. I've been to Catoctin Zoological and Wildlife Park which is a five to ten minute trip from where I live and the folks there do take care of the animal residents. I also noticed judgemental remarks about the worker's stupidity. It's a human trait to err, and unfortunately a fraction of time possibly combined with an oversight (which was a serious one nonetheless) cost this poor woman serious injury. I do agree that no animal, in a case like this should be eutahanized--they are wild just as they were created.

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