This blog strives to demonstrate that you need to be careful around animals. But it actually is possible to take this caution too far. Some people are apparently so poised to spring into action at the least hint of trouble that they see bad animals where there are none.
I don't mean they see bad animals where there are good animals, assuming such a thing exists. I mean cases like this one:
Police in Germany raced to the scene after a jogger rang the emergency line in Braunschweig in a panic, saying she had spotted a tiger on her early morning run... Police officers immediately responded and discovered the animal standing motionless on the bridge.
On closer inspection, the officers were struck by the friendly demeanour of the smallish beast measuring about 80 by 80 centimeters (31.5 inches). "They succeeded in taming the predator and took him back to the police station. It wasn't a difficult task because the tiger was a stuffed toy."
While this blog takes the position that any animal can behave badly, we mean any live animal. Apparently regular reminders of this are necessary. We've actually covered two previous examples of police being called out in response to a stuffed tiger, in England and in Texas, and in another case in Germany a man called police to report that he went out to his car and found a tiger sleeping in front of it.
We've also seen police shoot an alligator before realizing it was a statue, and as you know if you've read the book, animal control officers are regularly called out to "rescue" not only fake animals, but inanimate objects that not even animal-shaped, mistaken by kind-hearted ninnies for creatures in distress.
Some who make these erroneous reports even claim a certain level of expertise. In another case of a large stuffed feline, in Germany, a man called police insisting that he saw the corpse of a leopard floating in a lake in a city park: "He assured us that he knew what he was talking about, that he was a trained hunter and even had relevant 'African experience'," said a police statement. "He said he had even gone back home to get his binoculars to make sure he hadn't made a mistake."
These incidents may seem harmless, but there are too many real bad animals around for us to waste resources on false alarms. Of course I don't recommend anyone sticking around, possibly in harm's way, to make specific species identifications. But I think it's safe to say that if you don't live in tiger habitat, you should consider the odds, and perhaps take a moment to make sure you are looking at a living, breathing creature before calling out the authorities.
And a final note: There's another category of people who bear some of the blame for these incidents: the irresponsible owners who let these imitation animals loose in the wild. So please, if you own such large stuffed creatures, dispose of them responsibly.