A chimpanzee attacks a woman in Connecticut. An elephant is discovered starving in a yard in Indiana. A little boy plays with an African viper in Ohio. Such stories make local headlines, seemingly sensational and frivolous. But they also reveal serious misunderstandings of wild animals, with potentially serious consequences. These and other animals, especially monkeys and reptiles, are often available for purchase at exotic animals sales. Michael Webber’s The Elephant in the Living Room, available today on DVD, includes interviews with emergency room doctors, big cat owners, and public safety officers like Dayton’s Tim Harrison. A former lion owner himself, Harrison works with private owners in order to find new and safer homes for pets who have grown beyond the owner’s ability to care for them. The film follows his story as it intertwines with that of Terry Brumfield, a former big rig driver suffering from depression following debilitating injuries in a truck accident. When his African lions, Lambert and Lacey, get loose one night and chase cars on a Columbus, OH highway, Tim has to step in, but even as he convinces Terry it’s in the lions’ best interest to move from the cage in his backyard, both men are shocked to learn that Lacey is nursing two cubs. The film observes the two men as they face all manner of emotional, legal, and moral complexities.
See PopMatters’ review.