A BLT of Love
December 13, 2013

A BLT Of Love

So, I am an animal lover. I love all of them, great and small, fury and scaly, flying and swimming, carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore. I love animals. I also respect the importance of natural living conditions, of the relationships between humans and animals, and of how we all live together. I do support having pets, but I do not support having exotic pets for the most part. For instance, monkeys are my favorite animal. I adore them in all their cuteness, creativity, and even their cunningness. But I would not have one for a pet because they are not domesticated like cats, dogs, and birds. They are wild.

Having themed exotic pets, you know, like a lion, tiger, and bear, seem just foolish. Yet one drug dealer decided he must own, but not care for, a lion, tiger, and bear. As the Huffington Post explains, “Baloo the bear, Leo the lion, and Shere Khan the tiger (all three known as BLT) were brought together as 2-month-old cubs and have grown up as a family.”

Now having just one of these three fierce predators would demand enough from an exotic pet parent, but all three seems too much. Um, especially for a drug dealer who has his mind, shall we say, elsewhere? And this proved the case because all three were malnourished, maltreated, and in dire shape. The worst of them was Baloo, whose owner had put a harness on him when he was a cub and had not adjusted it as he grew, so the harness grew into Baloo’s body. It had to be surgically removed.

This happens with dogs sometimes when owners do not pay close enough attention as puppies grow. It is not an easy surgery nor is it one that should even happen if a pet parent is being attentive, kind, and loving. Clearly, Baloo did not have that. And neither did Leo and Shere Khan.

Stories like this infuriate me. These are wild animals, predators fierce and strong. If one insists on having such a beast for a pet, then that person needs to be well qualified, prepared, and absolutely diligent in caring for the exotic pet. Obviously, this drug dealer was not such a human, so just how was he able to own these three majestic creatures? Whatever the tags, licenses, and processes otherwise, obviously it was not enough.

These animals suffered because of one human’s hubris. Unacceptable.

Animals are not here as human’s entertainment. If we have pets (be they domestic or exotic), we have a responsibility to care for and love them. We have a responsibility to make sure they are safe, happy, and healthy. When we do not do that, we break all morals and goodness in the world. I will not sit idly by and allow this to happen without calling it out. We must make sure that animals are not abused. Now, those animals that are treated with love and respect have good pet parents. I am not talking about these. I reference just the pet owners like the one who hurt BLT.

But the story ends well. All three live together in Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. Because the three obviously had formed bonds through their captivity and maltreatment in their youth, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary quickly realized that BLT was a family and could not be separated. Through fundraising and crowd-funding and even winning some awards, the sanctuary was able to build a confine for the three to live safely and legally, together. For 13 years now, they have been one happy family…a lion, tiger, and bear, oh my!

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Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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