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Rated 3.09 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
by Betty Jo Tucker

The Elephant in the Living Room, a powerful documentary directed by Michael Webber, explores the controversial topic of keeping dangerous wild animals as common household pets – and it’s a real eye-opener!

The film follows Tim Harrison as he answers calls about deadly predators roaming inner-city and suburban streets. Harrison is responsible for the rescue and capture of so-called domesticated exotic animals. He’s an Ohio police officer who takes his job very seriously, for one of his friends was killed by an exotic pet. Viewers are also introduced to Terry Brumfield, a man trying to overcome depression as a result of his connection with a pet African lion. Harrison and Brumfield are at the heart of this disturbing and compelling movie.

Before seeing The Elephant in the Living Room, I had no idea about the extent of the exotic pet problem. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess to having a coyote as a pet when I was a youngster. We called him “Whirly” because he loved to run around in circles. At the time, I was too young to feel guilty about keeping Whirly in a cage most of the time. Fortunately, this pet never hurt anyone. But, thinking back now, I wish “Whirly” had a better life in the wild where he belonged.

Animals much more dangerous than a coyote take center stage in The Elephant in the Living Room. For example, Harrison deals with a huge alligator moseying through a mid-western town, a gaboon viper lurking in a garage, a leopard running through a major city, and an African lion chasing cars on the freeway -- plus many other instances involving cougars, tigers, panthers, bears and reptiles.

While watching this unusual documentary, I became a Tim Harrison fan. As a dedicated animal protection advocate, he has rescued hundreds of exotic animals, authored two books on this topic, produced educational wildlife videos and has been featured on nearly every major television network. No wonder The Elephant in the Living Room has already won five Best Documentary awards. Kudos to producer/director Michael Webber for delivering such an emotional, enlightening and gripping film.

(Released by Edify Media and rated "PG" for thematic material including some disturbing situations, mild language and smoking.) 

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