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Tim Harrison: Lions, Tigers, and Bears… and Wolves, Pythons, Cougars, Alligators, and Sloths Living in America’s Basements and Backyards

Elizabeth Novogratz 23 January 2020 1

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In neighborhoods all over the United States, there are homes with large predators, venomous snakes, and wild animals from every country on the planet. The desire to own and “master” some of the worlds most dangerous creatures, from lions to wolves to pit vipers, started to boom in the 90s – mostly because of reality TV. It’s big business and it’s very legal in many parts of the country.

Not only is it incredibly dangerous for humans – the owners as well as the first responders who get the call when something goes amiss; but, it’s also cruel and leads to a miserable existence for the animals. No wild animal is better off living in some ones backyard, basement, or living room. There have been numerous situations where things have gone awry, situations like Travis the Chimp in Connecticut and the tragedy in Zanesville, Ohio where Terry Thompson turned 56 predators loose on the city and all of the animals were killed.

Tim Harrison is a retired Ohio police officer, fire fighter, and paramedic and he is a leading specialist when it comes to dealing with the exotic pet trade. He has been fighting to get these animals out of people’s homes and into sanctuaries for over 40 years. He started out on what he calls “the dark side” of the trade. He owned lions and wolves and a menagerie of wild pets (that he’d rescued from the trade) until he made a trip to Africa and saw what wild animals in the wild looked and behaved like. Ever since, he’s been leading the mission to change the laws and get these animals to safe and sane environments.

Tim is also the director of Outreach for Animals and he was the subject of the documentary, The Elephant in the Living Room – an award winning film made by Michael Webber that explores this growing trend of people owning dangerous exotics as pets. Only after I saw it did I understand just how terrifying and incredibly sad the American exotic pet trade is. It’s something that shouldn’t exist in the first place but until the laws change and more people get on board, wild animals will continue to be trafficked and live in small cages in suburbia. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. You will be floored.

Tim’s stories of fighting this trade while rescuing hundreds of animals are absolutely incredible. He and I met a few weeks ago in Ohio and he shared quite a few of them. Please listen to this episode and then, get behind the Big Cat Public Safety Act and help get these animals out of the trade.

Species Unite is a podcast focused on those who fight the good fight on behalf of animals around the globe. It's a collection of the stories of the people who are healing the world one creature at a time.

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There’s not much that we can be certain about in such uncertain times but there are a few things. One is that unless we change the way that that we treat animals, the next pandemic is most definitely coming. Only next …continue

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Proudly brought to you by: Elizabeth Novogratz 21 April 2020