Kelly Ann Walz of Ross Township, PA Killed by Pet Bear

It’s No Surprise: Bears Are Wild Animals

kelly ann walz black bearYou know they call them killer whales
But you seem surprised
When it pinned you down to the bottom of the tank
Where you can’t turn around
It took half your leg and both your lungs
– Neko Case, “People Gotta Lot of Nerve”

Ross Township, PA isn’t far north of the “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. It isn’t the “New Frontier.” The vast majority of pet owners there are perfectly content with dogs, cats, fish, gerbils and reptile variants. Black bears are an uncommon pet choice, to say the least. Most people would need quick cash in order to keep up with feedings alone. Yet Kelly Ann Walz kept one in a steel and concrete cage near her residence. Now both owner and her 350-pound black bear are dead (see http://www.mcall.com/news/police/all-a7_5bear.7043692oct05,0,3099677.story).

Kelly Ann Walz Was Mauled While Cleaning the Cage

Walz, 37, was cleaning her “pet” bear’s 15-by-15 foot cage when law enforcement say it “turned on her.” Apparently the cleaning routine was that she would throw a shovelful of dog food to the opposite side of the cage, which distracted the bear and gave Kelly Ann Walz time to clean. This time, it didn’t work. Things can turn on a dime in the blink of an eye.

A Wild Animal Will Not Play Our Game For Long

As these cases always go, the black bear was shot and killed after it turned on Kelly Ann Walz. As if the bear were suddenly tainted in human eyes because it acted instinctually. Yet you can be certain that taking it into captivity and “taming” it had made it impossible to return to the wild. It’s always the prerogative of human beings, isn’t it? They have the ability to obtain quick cash and believe in old books, so they think they have dominion over the animals.

Kelly Ann Walz had Owned the Bear Since 2000

It so happens that she also owned a Bengal tiger and an African lion. All problems just waiting to happen, I guarantee you. If a wild animal is kept in a very well-equipped zoo or wildlife refuge, then perhaps their health, behavioral and psychological needs can be met. But keeping them at a private residence? It’s simply too much to ask of both the person and the animal. Even Siegfried & Roy were unable to escape incident with one of their tigers.

Suppress that “Saving” Impulse

Wild animals cannot be saved by private residents. For whatever good intent she had, Kelly Ann Walz was not saving her black bear, tiger or lion. Regardless of whether they came from the wild or from a zoo, she was not equipped to handle them safely and provide what they needed. Authorities believe the animals were licensed with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, but that doesn’t mean that Kelly Ann Walz was equipped to handle them. She may have needed more quick cash to help. As I see it, such is a failing of the law that her death should have come to pass in this manner.

Ross Township, PA Mourns the Loss of Kelly Ann Walz

As do I. I also mourn the loss of the black bear, which should never have been kept at a private residence in the first place. Hopefully all of her animals will go to a properly equipped zoo or wildlife refuge than can approximate their wild habitat as closely as possible. Quick cash from a lender can only take you so far. Let a good zoo do its work.

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