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Concrete Jungle By Terri Lujan
Wild animals are not only found in the wilderness.
They often make it into the city. Terri Lujan offers a sample of
animals at-large in New York City in recent years, how they were dealt
with, and tips on how to handle your own close encounters.
Wild animalsescaped or lostrunning loose in New York
City are rare. When an incident does occur, there are usually only two
resultseither the animal is killed in a panic, or else the creature
is apprehended in a humane way. Some people live in harmony with exotic
animal companions, but if they arent careful, they can make a fatal
mistake when handling such pets. Here are some stories to
In June, Narco, a one-ton raging bull escaped from a rodeo
(the American tradition of cruelty) in Queens. Witnesses watched as the
terrified bull ran through the streets and was pummeled with more than
40 bulletsshot by policebefore ultimately dropping to the
ground, dead. Just this past winter a full-grown tiger was spotted wandering
around a New Jersey town. Police shot and killed the large cat for
the safety of residents explained Sergeant Rick Ferrarelli. Last
year, a 19 year-old man was killed in New York City while preparing to
feed his 13-foot Burmese python. It was reported that the snake mistook
the owner for live food (snakes have poor vision) and struck at him.
A coyote was captured in Central Park and shipped back upstate earlier
this yearthe first time in a century that a coyote had made its
home in the Park. About this time last year Elsie, a 5-month old Hereford
calf, escaped from Ely Live Poultry Market, a slaughterhouse facility
in the Bronx. The 300-pound calf was safely lassoed by police officers
and taken to her new home in upstate New York, to Green Chimneys, a sanctuary
for abused children and animals. Four rams were also found at this market
living in squalid conditions and were sent to live with Elsie. Recently,
a frightened doe was saved by cops after she was chased by a pack of dogs
in the Bronx. She will also be joining Elsie and ram family upstate. This
time last year a rabid skunk was captured in Van Cortlandt Parkalso
in the Bronx. Contrary to popular belief, most wild animals are not infected
with rabies and no person in the area was known to have been exposed
Then there is Ripper, a 10-year-old dog-wolf mix who in December 1996
was allowed to remain with his owner on Staten Island after the City
that the dog did not pose a threat to the publics health or safety,
even though NYC Health Code does not allow wolves or wolf hybrids to
kept as pets.
Just in case, youre wondering why New York City appears to be turning
into Wild Kingdom, consider the following. Interaction between people
and wildlife is becoming more frequent as human population grows and
push out into neighboring woods and forests. As suburbs merge with cities,
deer and other creatures find the lawns and trash cans of neighborhoods
irresistible treats and can encroach on urban areas.
What to Do
Killing wild visitors has become socially
unacceptable or questionable, and there are strong community attitudes
concerning the welfare of animals. So, what should you do if you find
yourself in contact with a wild animal in the City? Here are some tips:
A skunk walks into your garage. Skunks have terrible
eyesight, so if you move slowly and quietly, the skunk will hardly notice
you. Make a path of something smelly leading out of the garage and he
Your neighborhood beaver is chewing your trees. Wrap
hardware cloth around the bases of the trees to deter the noshing.
Theres a bat in your house. Open a window or
exterior door and the bat will locate the echo-location and fly out.
You find a coyote in your back yard. Coyotes are generally
afraid of people and almost never attack humans. They are attracted
to places where they can find trash, fruit or small animals. Keep your
pets indoors and keep trash lids securely fastened. It also helps to
pull ripe fruit off of near-by trees.
In the end, its best just to use commonsense.
Ask yourself four questions: Is my action in the best interest of the
animal? What are the realities and myths about its behavior? Why am I
and why is the animal acting the way we are? Am I trying to reduce anxiety
about human/wildlife interaction? Finally, what is the bottom line? Choose
the humane solution!
Terri Lujan is an animal activist who lives in Brooklyn with
her companion, an eight-year-old Chihuahua named Baby. This article
is dedicated to the memory of Webby, an abandoned duck who was found
and cared for by Rita (manager of the Veterinary Medical Center of Brooklyn)
and her staff. Webby and Baby were best friends.