Thursday, July 10, 2014

"The Elephant in the Living Room" examines the practice of keeping exotic wild animals as pets, most of all, big cats

The Elephant in the Living Room” (2010, directed by Michael Webber), by Nightfly and National Geographic, examines the subculture of keeping exotic animals as pets, which is generally illegal in most of the United States. Curiously, none of them are elephants.  But there are plenty of big cats. 
Much of the film focuses on Ohio, around Dayton, where a disturbed man Terry Brumfield, has raised a male and female lion (Lambert and Lacey) and kept them in a cage for several years, mostly for his own emotional satisfaction. At Ohio sheriff Tim Harrison tries to work with the main incrementally.  But at one point the male lion briefly escapes, and later there is a tragic accident with the electrical system in the cage, leading to the lion’s electrocution. The "couple" has four lion cubs who play like housecats, for a while. 

The film covers other animals, especially mountain lions, as well as alligators and even snakes (including boa constrictors, one of which killed a toddler).  It goes to the Everglades in Florida and even to Virginia Beach.
It also shows an auction of exotic animals in New Hope, Ohio, in a building where cameras aren’t allowed (but cell phone video will do here).

In Africa, people get to know wild animals, but usually leave them in wide outdoor areas.
This film could be compared to “Duma”, a 2005 South African film by Carroll Ballard about a South African family that keeps a cheetah as a household pet, successfully. 

There is an official site, link here. It is available on Netflix instant play. The film can be rented on YouTube for $2.99.  

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