There’s reasoning behind the saying, ‘Let wild things be wild’

(Photo by Bob "Greenie" Grewell)

“Let wild things be wild.”

We hear those words a lot. But do we really take them to heart or understand what they mean?

There’s been a lot in the news recently about out-of-place wild animals turning up where they should not be.

A small alligator, nicknamed “Chance The Snapper,” was found swimming in a Chicago park lagoon last week. And four other alligators have been removed from several public areas in Pittsburgh since May.

It’s not too hard to figure how these critters – normally found only in zoos and the wild – got into these domesticated spots.

People buy these animals in disreputable pet shops and flea markets, take them home, then discover they can’t feed or keep them. So, they take them to an area lake, pond or forest and turn them loose without thinking of the consequences or what will happen to the alligator, snake, lizard or whatever when it is out of its native habitat.

In the case of the alligators, they have no chance of survival in cold water. And it does get cold in Chicago and Pittsburgh in the winter!

Don’t think this kind of stuff doesn’t happen in Ohio. I remember a few years back when an alligator carcass washed up on a boat launch ramp at Grand Lake St. Marys one spring. It probably did not swim there from Florida or Louisiana.

The most blatant case of a mis-placed wild animal that I ever experienced directly came when I was a fledgling reporter.

While paging through a stack of Madison County Sheriff’s reports one day, I came across one that said an African lion cub had been loose in the hamlet of Plumwood – about seven miles north of London.

Unbelieving, I called the sheriff to verify. Sure enough, a Plumwood lady had acquired a little lion and it had escaped her mobile home one night. Although the animal was captured, the incident had the entire village on edge.

The story was too good to let go. So, I knocked on the lady’s door one day in pursuit of an interview.

She was gracious to let me in and tell me her story. She had purchased the cub (and it was watching me from a small cage in the mobile home) at a flea market in Lucasville, Ohio. It was like a big kitten and she treated it accordingly.

She had it checked over by a local vet, who cautioned her against keeping it. Even somewhat domesticated, the lion would post an eventual threat to the neighborhood and a financial burden to its owner, he said.

“Do you know how much a full-grown lion eats in a day?” the vet had asked.

I think the lady was beginning to realize her folly but was hesitant to acknowledge it.

To this day, I cannot pass that mobile home (just off State Route 38) without wondering whatever happened to the lion and its owner.

The up-side to the story is that once the local township officials realized the situation, they enacted much-needed zoning regulations to prevent a recurrence.

Most of these animals are cute and cuddly when young, making it hard to visualize what they will look like as adults.

But they are wild things and should never be domesticated – especially by the inexperienced.

“Let wild things be wild.”

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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