Sep 30, 2011 08:57 AM EST
One of the Largest Growing Sub Cultures of Today’s Is Owning Exotic Animals, The Elephant In The Room Explores That World
Of late, there have been a number of documentaries hitting theaters giving people insight into obscure pockets of society that we may not even be aware of. One of the largest growing sub cultures of today's world is owning exotic animals and raising them as household pets. The documentary The Elephant in the Room explores that world by following two people on opposite sides of the spectrum.
Tim Harrison is an Ohio police officer who is also a member of a wild animal rescue organization. As an Ohio officer Tim receives over a dozen calls a year about wild animals that have either escaped or been set loose by their owners. Around 20 states including Ohio have no laws regarding the ownership of exotic animals. Over in another Ohio county we meet Terry Brumfield, a rural man who is the very proud owner of two full grown African lions. 3 years ago Terry was in a bad accident and was bed ridden for over a year. The accident and in ability to do much of anything left him severely depressed until one day a friend came by with a small lion cub in an attempt to cheer him up.
The result was that Terry took in the cub that he named Lambert along with a female cub that he named Lacy. Now full grown both Lions live in a small enclosure barely big enough for them to run in. Back over in Dayton with Officer Harrison we follow him as he travels around the county answering distress calls and attempting to find shelters that will house the animals he captures. Along with that Tim travels to different places to give the audience a better idea of the magnitude of this "hobby". He takes us to Pennsylvania where a wild animal auction, specifically reptiles, is taking place. Since cameras are strictly forbidden the director/cameraman, Michael Webber, sneaks a camera inside so we can see what is available to the general public.
Inside are tables filled with small Tupperware containers containing all manner of reptiles from snakes, lizards, alligators and even crocodiles. Some of the animals are poisonous, some aren't, but all are very dangerous. The most startling thing though, besides just the fact that these events exist, is witnessing small children standing around holding containers holding a deadly snake or lizard and acting as though they just got a puppy for Christmas. Back in Ohio with Terry, he winds up making the news when Lambert breaks free of his cage and runs amok on a local highway. After the big cat is captured, he is returned to Terry but now both animals are confined to a small metal cage to ensure they do not escape again.
Because of this Tim becomes involved and does what he can to ensure that the animals as well as Terry are unharmed. Things change though when the two men discover that Lacy has had babies. Now the situation has escalated and while Tim has no authority to remove the animals from Terry's land, he does what he can to see that they are placed in a safe environment.
What makes this film so remarkable is the delusionary minds of the people who try and raise these animals. During the film there is some footage from other areas of the U.S. where wild animals have been captured. In Las Vegas a man who has had formal training in Zoology and veterinary medicine claims that raising wild animals is perfectly natural and shouldn't be deemed illegal by a society that is clearly afraid. Another Vegas couple operate an organization that pushes for the rights of people who wish to own exotic animals. During their interviews a full grown cougar plays at their feet as though it were a house cat all the while both owners seem completely at ease with the idea.
By the films conclusion some victories are achieved while others go through the pain of loss but overall everyone insists on the transformative power these creatures have on one's psyche. There seems to be large grain of truth to that, how could anyone not be affected by these animals, regardless of whether they own them or not. Essentially we are dealing with Mother Nature at its most primal. As humans it is easy to forget that we are not the top of the food chain.
True we raise and consume livestock, but most animals that humans partake in are not predators. The animals in this film are dangerous, just like we are. We forget that because of all the accomplishments we have made, but as everyone knows, when you take all our toys away from us we are not as dominant as we would like to believe and there is plenty of news footage throughout the film which proves that point.
It has now arrived on Blu-ray and it looks absolutely breathtaking. Even though the landscape they shoot within isn't one would normally consider awe inspiring; seen through Blu-ray the colors just pop off the screen, especially during scenes in the wilderness. It really shines during the interviews with Terry, every crack, wrinkle and blemish are there for inspection and his face speaks of a past that wasn't very kind which makes it difficult to find fault in his decisions. Along on the DVD are some clever extras like a director's commentary, a near hour long segment titled "Beyond the Call" which is a Q&A with the director Michael Webber, Tim Harrison and Russ Clear. Also there are some deleted scenes of interest as well as the theatrical trailer; all in all a very well done presentation for the home viewer.
During the final scenes we are reminded that animals need more than we can give them sometimes and animals such as these are not meant to be caged. They have to run free with others of their ilk or else face the reality of a short life. It is a shame that there are people who still exist that see the world as their personal playpen with no regards to the consequences of their actions. Hopefully this film will have an impact on society at large and people will finally begin to make progress into banning ownership of these animals.
Rent The Elephant in the Living Room From Amazon.com today!
Rent The Elephant in the Living Room From Amazon.com today!
About Chris Rebholz
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