Just how close can you really get to wild animals? Exotic pet ownership is not as rare as one might think – or as wildlife experts wish. Millions of exotic animals are brought to the United States every year and a significant number of them have the potential to severely injure or kill their owners, neighbours and family. Premiering Monday, August 16, at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT, Animal Planet presents FATAL ATTRACTIONS a three-part series that goes inside the homes of wild pet owners who insist that sharing their lives with deadly big cats, chimpanzees and venomous reptiles is worth the risk. With wild animal attacks making headlines now more than ever, Animal Planet digs deep to uncover what causes human fascination with these dangerous animals and what drives these owners’ obsessions.
Each episode of FATAL ATTRACTIONS features several exotic pet ownership cases that are carefully re-enacted, scrutinized and questioned as human behaviour experts and animal authorities bring forth their educated opinions and analysis. Owners unhesitatingly share their experiences with exotic pets and offer explanations as to why their love for these deadly animals is worth jeopardizing something horrible – even death.
“It’s common for exotic animal owners to believe they have a special kinship with their animals,” says Josephine Martell, program director of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Campaign, “often to a degree that becomes extreme when they compromise their own and others’ safety as well as the welfare of the animals.”
Many owners of wild animals are in complete denial about the needs or safety concerns of large, free-ranging carnivores. And despite what they believe, no amount of love or companionship can take the wild out of wildlife – appropriate care for wild animals requires considerable expertise, specialized facilities and lifelong dedication. Wild animals, by nature, are self-sufficient and fare best without our interference. Their instinctive and innate behaviour makes them unsuitable as pets.
While their love, admiration and intrigue is genuine, these exotic pet owners often ignore the fact that their choice of a pet could cost them, innocent bystanders or their beloved pets their lives. Why is it then that some people are comfortable with domestic pets like cats and dogs but others go to extremes to find companionship and love from animals that have the strong potential to kill them?
Episode highlights for FATAL ATTRACTIONS include:
FATAL ATTRACTIONS – “Big Cats”
Monday, August 16, at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
When Julie came across a black leopard for sale in an exotic pet magazine, she jumped at the opportunity and brought home Jovani – who she affectionately called JoJo. But on an ordinary February afternoon, Julie suffered the shock of her life as Jovani unexpectedly jumped on her and nearly ripped off her ear. Once he caught scent of the blood, Jovani’s wild instincts set in and he tore off a portion of her scalp with his teeth.
FATAL ATTRACTIONS – “Chimps”
Monday, August 23, at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
Montana resident Jeanne, owner of two young adult male chimpanzees, Connor and Kramer, is fully aware of the risk of parenting two primates; her love for these chimps however seems to outweigh her concern for her own life. And even though Jeanne personally knew the infamous Travis the Chimp, who brutally disfigured Charla Nash in February 2009 in Connecticut (Travis is Kramer and Connor’s half brother) Jeanne remains faithful to her conviction that she’s doing the right thing.
FATAL ATTRACTIONS – “Reptiles”
Monday, August 30, at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
Not every exotic animal owner is as fortunate as Julie and Jeanne however. This episode features stories where a man who lived with seven large Nile monitor lizards and a woman who owned more than 20 snakes and lizards were both killed by the animals they loved and cherished.