Last month, Brent Kandra Sam Mazzola was killed by a pet bear owned by Ohio bear-wrestling entrepreneur Sam Mazzola. The gruesome attack brought focus onto the state’s lax exotic pet laws, and it wasn’t long after that Ohio instituted new laws to ban exotic animal ownership. Of course, the new law’s grandfather clause would have allowed Sam Mazzola to keep his bears anyway, but it does prevent new exotic pet owners and also keeps current owners from replacing or breeding their exotic animals.
But Ohio wasn’t the only state with lax exotic pet ownership laws. Consider this finding from a Boston.com story:
“According to a database of publicized exotic-pet escapes and attacks since 1990 kept by the animal rights group Born Free USA, Ohio ranks fifth in the number of episodes that hurt or killed a human — 14. The leader, Florida, has had 43, followed by Texas with 19, New York with 18, and California with 16. Alabama ties Ohio with 14.”
For a full summary of all state’s laws on exotic pets, visit this website.
While the average person might see owning an exotic pet as strange, dangerous, and irresponsible, many exotic pet owners believe they’re actually helping these big animals. They say that habitat loss, poaching, public fear, and ignorance put these animals in danger, and in a way, they think they’re conservationists.
Regardless of what your position is on the issue, the simple truth is that owning an exotic pet can be incredibly dangerous. You can never predict the behavior of wild animals, and all it takes is a split-second for an animal to attack and seriously maim or kill a person.
Here are 7 horrifying tales of exotic pet attacks.
1. Travis the Chimp tears woman’s face apart
Travis the Chimp was an exotic pet that had been featured in TV commercials for Coca Cola and Old Navy. On one day in 2009, his owner, Sandra Herold, noticed Travis wasn’t acting like he normally does. So, she slipped him a Xanax. Later on, Travis the Chimp got out of his enclosure, and Herold contacted her friend Charla Nash to help bring the chimp back in.
That’s when things turned ugly.
The chimp brutally attacked Charla Nash, literally ripping her face off. This led to one of the most chilling 911 calls ever as owner Sandra Herold pleads with police to come stop the chimp from ripping her friend apart.
Months later, Charla Nash appeared on “Oprah” to reveal her face and share her story. She now has to drink her meals with a straw through the small hole where her mouth used to be, she lost both hands, her nose, eyes, and lips.
Click here to view photos of Charla Nash’s injury. WARNING: These are very graphic.
2. Python squeezes 2-year-old girl to death
In one of the saddest stories involving exotic pets, a 2-year-old girl in Florida was squeezed and bitten by her family’s 8-foot python. The little girl died of asphyxiation. She was in her crib when the python escaped its enclosure, entered her room, and squeezed her to death before any of her family members realized what had happened.
The mother of the child and her live-in boyfriend (it was his snake) were charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter over the girl’s death.
3. Roy Horn gets pummeled by 600-pound white tiger
Roy Horn, of Siegfried and Roy, was attacked by Montecore, the group’s 600-pound white tiger during a Las Vegas show in 2003. Horn was celebrating his 59th birthday that day, and when he was going through a routine with the animal, it stopped obeying his orders and attacked. The white tiger carried Horn of the stage by his throat, and by the time it let go, Horn had lost a lot of blood. He suffered a stroke after the attack, and needed to have a couple of major surgeries—one of which involved the doctors moving a large portion of his skull to relieve the pressure on his swelling brain.
Horn was lucky to have survived, and the group did its farewell performance earlier this year.
4. Woman gets crushed to death by pet camel
Cathie Ake was showing local news reporters her collection of exotic pets, including an 1800-pound camel named Polo. During the shoot, the camel suddenly attacked Cathie, knocked her to the ground and then laid on her. The enormous weight of the camel caused the owner to get crushed to death right in front of the reporters. It was a shocking turn of events that underscores just how dangerous exotic pets can be.
5. Pet python strangles owner
25-year-old Amanda Black was trying to give her pet python a shot of medication when it turned on her and strangled her to death. The 13-foot-python was loose in the room when the woman’s husband came home and found her dead on the floor in front of the snake’s cage. The python was later put down at the request of Amanda’s husband.
6. 66-year-old man gored to death by red deer
A Georgia man who owned exotic pets was found dead inside a deer’s pen on his property. The man had been gored several times in his upper body by the red deer’s antlers. He also owned buffalo, llama, horses, and other exotic pets.
7. Pet bear attacks and kills owner
After raising “Teddy” from cubhood for 9 years, Kelly Ann Walz was suddenly attacked and killed while cleaning out her black bear’s cage. The 350-pound bear turned on Walz while her two young kids were watching. The kids went to a neighbor’s house for help, and the man came over and shot the bear to death. But it was too late for Walz. The 37-year-old PA woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Do you think exotic pets should be banned nationwide? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.