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Edition 106-September 2013
An exotic animal kills again
Death of Noah and Connor Barthe was preventable
By Thomas Terrio

The shocking deaths of two young boys last month in New Brunswick, Canada was a national tragedy. Noah and Connor Barthe ages four and six, were at a friends sleep-over above a pet store, when an African Rock Python weighing 125 pounds and 14 feet long escaped from its tank in an adjacent room. By using the building’s ventilation system, the snake made its way into the adjoining apartment asphyxiating the children while they slept.

In my view, the keeping of all exotic animals should be prohibited, because there is only one place for such animals and that is in their natural environment. Don’t get me wrong, municipal zoos are a great place for people of all ages to learn about and appreciate wild animals. But there are animals so dangerous and unpredictable, even a zoo should not be allowed to keep them. For example, large predatory animals such as lions, tigers, gorillas, pythons, crocodiles, alligators, elephants and hippopotamus should be left alone in the wild. But a pet store with dangerous exotic animals for sale such as pythons, alligators, or tarantulas, is most definitely not the place for these types of predators due to the unforseen and unintended consequences such animals present to the local population.

For years, people have talked about an exotic animal ban here in Canada, but not much has been done in the two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec. The only province which has applied stricter laws is the Province of British Columbia. The new laws were introduced in B.C. after a deadly tiger attack in 2007. While visiting an exotic animal farm in 100 Mile House B.C., 32-year-old Tania Dumstrey-Soos was attacked and mauled to death by a captive Siberian tiger while her three children watched in horror.

noah and connor bartheConnor and Noah Barthe, six and four years old.

Indeed, there are many good intentions and high ideals already written into present day law with respect to exotic animals, but it’s the question of enforcement that appears to be amiss. Wild animals are as unpredictable as humans; and it pains me to see the many people in the world who do not have enough respect for exotic animals and their wild nature. As a young boy I had the opportunity to visit the Granby Zoo in Granby, Quebec. It was an incredible day for me, I enjoyed riding on an elephant and experiencing as a child all the peculiar sounds and smells of the zoo.

While at the wild cat enclosure, the trainer brought out a baby Jaguar for all the young children to see. I remember holding the Jaguar in my arms and feeling its raw power. It was only a few weeks old, but even at such a young age the animal was all muscle. And when it roared in my arms, I was amazed at the fierceness of its tone. At that very moment, I understood how dangerous wild animals really were. But most of all, I realized they deserved my utmost respect whenever I was around them.

When it comes to making law, the federal government must act in providing one law for every province in Canada, notwithstanding provincial jurisdiction, by using the federal criminal code. Why, because ten different laws in ten different provinces will only add to confusion, misinformation, and court costs. Furthermore, people need to be educated on the dangers of wild animals, whether they be pythons, lions, chimpanzees, deer, racoons or crows. All exotic animals should be considered dangerous and outlawed, not only for the protection of people, but also for the well-being of the animal itself.

The majority of exotic animals are smuggled into countries unlawfully. Many die in transport under horrid conditions, and many more suffer at the hands of greedy smugglers because of the demand for exotic pets. Furthermore, exotic animals not only pose a threat to people, but to the local landscape and its native species. At what point will common sense prevail? Stricter laws are needed, and the laws must be strictly enforced. How unfortunate and disturbing that the deaths of Noah and Connor Barthe were entirely preventable.

Donations may be made towards the "Connor and Noah Memorial Trust Fund" at any TD Canada Trust branch
Thank you
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