Petzal: Free Willy?

Today's New York Times contained two stories about fatal animal attacks on humans. One was by a killer whale named Tilikum who grabbed his "trainer" at Sea World in Orlando and drowned her. The second was about the police officer who was forced to kill Travis the chimp in Stamford, CT, about a year ago, after Travis attacked and nearly killed a friend of his owner.

Both tragedies were caused because the public has been mis-educated about what animals actually are. An orca--a killer whale, if you will--is an apex predator that slaughters ocean mammals for a living. It is not a black and white version of Flipper. It is also highly intelligent, and an orca that has been confined to an enlarged swimming pool, as Tilikum was, is probably as well-balanced and happy as a human being who has been confined to a prison cell. A baby chimp is cute and playful. An adult male chimp is one of the brightest of animals, but it is also a natural-born killer who, in its wild state, devotes considerable time and energy to murdering its fellow chimps.

The proper place for wild animals is in the wild. They are not exhibits, or amusements, or our friends. Until we get that through our heads, more people will be attacked and killed by "tame" creatures. My sympathies lie entirely with the animals. What did they do to merit life behind bars?