The Elephant in the Living Room | Chicago Reader

The Elephant in the Living Room

Partly funded by the Humane Society, this gripping documentary by Michael Webber rips the lid off a scandal that periodically turns up on local newscasts but then disappears from public consciousness: private ownership of dangerous exotic animals in the United States. There are some 15,000 big cats—lions, tigers, cougars, you name it—and 7.3 million deadly reptiles living in private homes across the nation, and of the 30 states that permit such pets, nine don't even require a license. The result is cruel neglect of these animals when they're cooped up in inadequate spaces and a dire threat to public safety when they get loose or their fed-up owners abandon them. Webber personalizes the problem in the mounting conflict between two men: Tim Harrison, an intrepid public safety officer in Ohio, and Terry Brumfield, a disabled and depressed ex-truck driver whose weepy attitude toward his pet lion and lioness (and, eventually, their three cubs) seems typical of the foolish people who perpetuate the situation.

Credits

Director:

  • Michael Webber

Producers:

  • Ross Hammer
  • Russ Muntz
  • Michael Webber

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