OFTEN, scenes where dangerous animals are used for entertainment attract vast attention. Time and again, one beholds such events in public spheres with crowd gathered to cheer the rare display. Such sights trigger curiosity over possibilities of taming such originally wild and violent animals to bid the calls of their keepers.
SCENARIOS of giant pythons obeying the commands of charms-wielding men and performing hysteric actions with the reptile while a ring of spectators gather at risky close distances watching raise posers to critical thinkers. But they go beyond just being described as bizarre.
IN most Nigerian big cities, for example, occasionally, charm- wielding men appear in crowded places along the streets and market corners with hefty hyenas in the name of public display of magical powers and dexterity in circuit performing act. Shockingly, not many note that should their charms fail them, neither they nor the public can hold down the deadly animals when they break loose. Without doubt, the humans nearby could end up as good feast for the beasts.
IN THE Sabon- Gari area of Kano city, in Kano State, groups of animal charmers go about busy areas with fierce looking tigers. At some times, baboons and foxes make the parade. Minders or users of the beasts stage performances with the dangerous animals while gullible public stand close by and watch gleefully. In Anambra State, often such animals keepers appear in Upper-Iweka area of Onitsha and other towns, brandishing anaconda-sized pythons in available spaces to show off their prowess.
SOME animals undoubtedly make very good company both at home and outside the home. They provide missing human links in homes where physical companionship of relations and neighbours are lacking for reasons. In some climes, animals are kept at homes as pets and given dosal affection sometimes more than humans. In the Indian movie entitled, ‘Teri Meherbaniyan’, written by Jagdish Kanwal Rajesh Vakil, a pet dog characterised the deep affinity and love that could exist between animals and man to the point of both pet and keeper opting to die for one another.
Many fables have painted scenarios of animals playing unusual parts in the lives of humans to save them (humans) from one danger or the other. For instance, people of Isunjaba, in Imo State, have a history of being helped by the python to cross the Njaba River and escape their assailants during an ancient war with their local rivals. In the aftermath, it became a taboo in the community to kill a python. In Awka, Anambra State, the monkey is a sacred animal that no one is allowed to rattle or kill. This is anchored on the ground that the monkey helped save them from annihilation by their enemies sometime ago in history. Today, the animal is revered as deity of a kind.
PERHAPS, these myths influence and douse the disastrous consequences of keeping dangerous animals within human space, especially, public domains without requisite precautions.
THE question is: What about need to protect members of the public in the event of failure of the performer’s charms? Perhaps, the pertinent issue arising from their emergence at such public risks should be the enabling license that empowers their presence in such public spaces.
ANIMAL rights exponents would frown at such spectacles. Beyond that is the issue of public security in this mix. Safety of people is not in any way guaranteed. Despite assumptions of possible veterinary treatment of the animals used in the display or the magicians’, the beasts while they are out of control of their charmers can, especially canine ones, eat up humans as meal. More so, there is no evidence that medical authorities demand proofs of inoculation of the animals.
HOWEVER, a report of an elderly woman and keeper of many dogs in Enugu, who was reportedly eaten-up by her over 60 dogs before neighbours could notice weeks after attests that anything is possible when violent animals are brought very close for humans.
NATIONAL Light believes that despite the fact that there is no current high number of reports of catastrophe arising from the activities of such men, the danger they constitute to the public should not be disregarded. It is equally our opinion that the public should be better protected by ensuring that only well vaccinated animals could be licensed for use in such displays.
THIS is because only a complacent society can see danger ahead and still plunge into it. Therefore, if immediate critical steps are not taken to regulate the activities of these maverick performers, they may put citizens in harm’s way with their horrendous activities.