This is a mea culpa post. I was a bit dismissive of State Senator Troy Balderson’s efforts to create a policy to prevent a recurrence of the exotic animal zoo disaster in Ohio this spring. Lowry Heussler was correct at the time to note that this is a serious issue.
I had wrongly assumed that the initial case — in which a man with serious mental health problems collected and then released a zoo-full of potentially lethal animals — was so improbable that no new policies were needed to prevent a second such incident. Lightning like that doesn’t strike twice, I foolishly supposed.
What changed my mind was being called in to do a forensic mental health examination of a suspect in a similar case. I could not ethically write about it at the time, but now that the matter has been adjudicated, I am going to relate the story (obscuring identifying details) as I believe it is of broad public policy interest.
The case involved a 46-year old man with psychopathology in the schizoid cluster. He shunned most human contact and had a number of nervous tics, disturbing compulsions and strange ideas. He was also, as the only surviving heir of an old money family fortune, wealthy enough to indulge his psychiatric idiosyncracies, one of which was a desire to collect exotic animals. On the large otherwise abandoned family estate he gathered tigers, ostriches, alligators and an array of other outre beasts.
His prize possession was an 800,000 gallon pool with an artificial tide, in which he kept dolphins. Among his deranged ideas was that his dolphins would live forever if they were fed a diet of sea gulls. He secured a large delivery of the birds and walked straight towards the pool, with the intention of giving his dolphins eternal life. Unfortunately for him, another one of his pets — an old, tame lion — was dozing outside of his back door and he stumbled over this king of the beasts. The police arrested him immediately for
Transporting gulls across a staid lion for immortal porpoises.
h/t Bennett Cerf