View Full Version : If I raised a baby bear or big cat from birth, would it try to eat me when it grew up

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
08-11-2003, 03:45 PM
I'm guessing "yes," but--and realizing that we can't read their minds--why? Wouldn't it see me as "the parent," and in the wild bears and big cats don't normally try to eat their parents.

08-11-2003, 04:08 PM
It wouldn't NECESSARILY try to eat you or even hurt you, but an adult animal doesn't relate to its parents the way a human does.

A human continues to feel ties of affection and loyalty to his/her parents long after the parent has ceased feeding and caring for it. Such behavior is VERY rare among mammals. Most predatory animals have no "relationship" with their fathers (who usually stay around just long enough to impregnate the mothers), and most have no relationship with their mothers once they're big enough to fend for themselves.

A few years after a young tiger or bear leaves its mother, it's not likely to remember her if he runs into her a few years later... and even if he does, it's not likely to be a joyous reunion. He may view her as a potential rival for food, or if he's in the mood for love, he may even regard her as a possible mate. But tigers and bears generally don't have long-term family ties or loyalties.

A bear or tiger raised in captivity may get used to people, may even like people a little. But they're NOT social animals by nature, and THAT'S what really makes them dangerous. Even if they're well fed and well cared for, they're NOT hard-wired for friendship or social interaction.

08-11-2003, 04:23 PM
I had a kitty cat that I raised from a kitten so small that the whole kitty except for tail would fit into my closed fist. Eyedropper full of KMR...closed eyes, mostly belly and head and almost vestigially-small kittyfeets. When Microkitty (a week or so older here (http://home.earthlink.net/~ahunter/Upload_Download/MK_01.jpg)) had put on a few months, he found it most amusing to pounce upon my hand, rotating his body around it so as to get access with the back claws as well, and get a good grip, following which he would chomp down.

I read somewhere that kitties and puppies learn from their moms and littermates what the limits of play are, and from this they learn to lighten up unless they're really trying to kill something (and risk having that "something" do its reciprocal best). To some extent MK eventually got the idea that it wasn't nice to put crimson drippy rally striped up and down our extremities, a lesson we were able to impart successfully, I believe, because we were larger than the cute little monster by a factor of 20 or thereabouts.

I understand the attraction of holding a cute little newborn Siberian tiger kitty, but keep in mind that, quite aside from legality questions, it's gonna have paws the size of dinner plates and teeth like a rack of Henkel knives right around the time it gets seriously interested in wrestling and pouncing on anything that moves just for the sheer joy of it.

08-11-2003, 04:36 PM
The Alaska Zoo put an orphaned polar bear cub and black bear cub (named them Aphun and Oreo) in the same enclosure. They got along famously when cubs and delighted onlookers with their antics. Now that they are about two or three years old, they have had to be separated because the play has turned to territorial fighting. The old nature vs nurture thing, I guess.

It seems even the trainers that have worked with big cats since birth are extremely cautious around them.

08-11-2003, 04:39 PM
- - - You can look it up yourself, but a couple years back one of the pair of Seigfried and Roy got himself a new ***hole torn when one of their famed "white tigers" that they let roam around the house decided to "play" with him.

08-11-2003, 04:41 PM
Clearly you folks have never watched Grizzly Adams or you would know that bears raised from birth by people will go on to hang out with the person who raised him as well as being available to get that person out of scrapes when need be. Sort of like a really big dog.


08-11-2003, 06:07 PM
Bunnies (http://store.rabbitvalley.org/item_detail_2822_1007.html), of course, will tear you to ribbons.

08-11-2003, 06:12 PM
I agree with AHunter3. When my cat was young it was cute how he'd pounce on me or take a swipe at my feet when I'm sitting on a chair or how he would playfully try to remove my eye balls when I was sleeping.

Now imagine a 250 lbs cat like that. Sure he might not want to hurt you but that's hardly going to help when that jaw clamps down...on your entire head. Or his 6 inch claws disembowel you when he playfully takes a swipe at ya.

08-11-2003, 06:37 PM
Bears and tigers are very different animals. Tigers are always dangerous while bears can be more domesticated. I suppose the sex of the animal also makes a difference.

Speaker for the Dead
08-11-2003, 07:04 PM
Yeah, if it's not getting any, you'd better watch out when it tries to hump your leg! :eek:

08-11-2003, 07:06 PM
Generally for animal trainers, there is a hiearchy of tractability for large carnivores. Among the big cats, female lions are generally considered the best, as they are most likely to make a lasting social bond ( I remember reading of one trainer who was being mauled by an irate tiger, that was saved by his favorite lion ). Leopards are purportedly the worst.

On the one hand, all of these large predators can be trained to a limited extent by a truly skilled, fearless person. In an artificial environment, where the "mother" ( trainer ) and "cub" ( animal in question ) are never separated, even normally solitary species can sometimes continue to maintain a familiar bond of some sort.

On the other, they obviously aren't domesticated, some individual adult big cats and bears are probably never trainable, and even trained animals are always potentially very dangerous and unpredictable. Just about any trainer that works with large predators usually has some pretty good scars.

A fairly recent novel, called The Final Confessions of Mabel Stark, is a fact-based faux memoir of a real person, a famous tiger-trainer in 1920's and 30's in particular. She worked exclusively with tigers and adored them. But she was seriously mauled several times and by the time she died ( 1968, I think ), she was covered in head to toe with scars.

- Tamerlane

08-11-2003, 07:13 PM
No matter how bad the risk of getting seriously torn up, its still better than dealing with a divorce lawyer. I say go for it.


Marriage isn't a word. Its a sentence.

08-11-2003, 07:14 PM
Originally posted by Speaker for the Dead
Yeah, if it's not getting any, you'd better watch out when it tries to hump your leg! :eek:

Funny you should mention that. The aforementioned Mabel Stark was the first to introduce "tiger-wrestling" to an animal act. She'd get in the ring with her hand-raised Bengal, Rajah, and surrepitiously signal him by whistling and he'd come charging out and tackle her. They'd role around, looking for all the world like she was being horribly mauled, while people shrieked and a few brave souls tried to rush the cage to save her. Then, she'd suddenly get up, unharmed, to cheers and acclaim.

But in fact, unbeknownst to the crowd, Rajah was...*ahem*...acting in a typical cat-like amorous fashion - grabbing the head and holding her down and...

Well, it is about this time she switched from her trademark black leather uniform, to white, to conceal the final result of his "performances" :D.

- Tamerlane

08-11-2003, 09:06 PM
Yep: as others have said. You'll have an animal that's nominally tame in that it's lost its fear of humans - but that same lack of fear will mean it's completely uninhibited if it gets angry/horny/territorial. A recent British documentary featured a guy who'd brought up an otter from cub, and it bit some of his fingers off when it freaked over him wearing an unfamiliar pullover. Likewise, there was a recent case of a badger brought up in captivity, again more or less tame, that escaped and seriously mauled someone's arm, bit other people, and finally had to be shot by police.

08-11-2003, 09:34 PM
Tamerlane's post reminded me that a cheetah, raised from kittenhood, will grow up to be a fair pet. At one time, rich people in India, among other places, kept them as hunting "dogs". They don't breed in captivity, however, because the male and female cheetah have to run together for miles in order to get into the mood--impractical if they live in your back yard.

08-11-2003, 10:11 PM
Undomesticated baby animals will grow up to be undomesticated adult animals. Period.

They may be trained adult undomesticated animals, but they're still undomesticated. They may be attempted to kept as pets, but they're still undomesticated.

Undomesticated means they're genetically wild, unpredisposed to being part of the home (the literal definition of domesticated, means 'homed'). Wild instincts will always be present, and can come out at any moment.

Look how domesticated animals... cats, dogs, even cows... will sometimes revert to instinct and harm humans, intentionally and unintentionally.

Even more so for undomesticated animals.

Domestication needs to bred into the animal, literally bred in over generations selectively choosing tameable traits. An exmperiment (albeit a questionable one) with wild foxes was able to create a domesticated fox in forty generations. (Cite (http://drbeetle.homestead.com/dog.html)).

So, for all those ferret, otter, badger, ground hog, mongoose, hawk, big cat, bear, monkey owners who think that they baby animal they raised is now a domesticated pet... they're friggin insane.

In response to the OP: best not to coat yourself in milk & honey.

Paul in Qatar
08-11-2003, 10:56 PM
I understand that cheetahs can (finally) be bredd reliably in captivity. (No cite.)

08-11-2003, 11:03 PM
Originally posted by moriah
So, for all those ferret, otter, badger, ground hog, mongoose, hawk, big cat, bear, monkey owners who think that they baby animal they raised is now a domesticated pet... they're friggin insane.

Nitpick: Ferrets are domesticated. (http://ferretcentral.org/faq/part1.html#wild)

Paul in Saudi: Oooh. Big kitties. :)

08-11-2003, 11:31 PM
One cannot domesticate a single individual.
Domestication is the process of selecting tractable individuals for breeding, over (many) successive generations. (my definition, not a quote).


David Simmons
08-12-2003, 01:24 AM
The TV channel Animal Planet runs a program every now and then of a group of Asian(?) monks who have a large group of tame tigers. The monks play in the water with the cats, take them for walks, etc. and even have a tiger petting area where visitors can mingle with them.

There are some no-no's. For example, f the cats rear up to put their front paws on the shoulders they are chastized because a tiger weighs enough to injure someone without trying to.

It seems to me that tigers might be particularly amenable to this. I also believe that ocelots were an occasional pet of the rich in the 20's and early '30's.

And then there was the trained bear, or bears, in the TV series Gentle Ben.

08-12-2003, 09:02 AM
Hippos are very dangerous in the wild but I have read of several instances where they make make good "pets"
e.g see http://mnet.co.za/CarteBlanche/Display/Display.asp?Id=1891

08-12-2003, 02:41 PM
I have a kitty. He weighs about 12 pounds. We play. Normally cats play rough. Sometimes when we play my kitty will make a swipe and draw blood. It's an accident and thats okay. A similar accident with a 300 pound kitty would not be acceptable.

08-12-2003, 03:19 PM
Friends of my parents belonged to the Ocelot & Marguey Assoc. in the 50's. They owned/were owned by a small, (17 lbs.) marguey, Zorch by name. Now Zorch certainly didn't attack people, we are too big, but she was by no means tame or domesticated. It had no fear of taking on anything under about 50 lbs; one neighbor's fox hound died and two other neighbor dogs never went after any kind of cat again. It wasn't interested in eating the fox hound, just establishing its territory and the local pecking order.

Aside; You could always find Zorch when she got out: You just looked for the tree with the empty bird carcasses under it. Then Herbie, her owner, would have to climb the tree with welding gauntlets and racing goggles on, and wrestle her down. This was exciting entertainment.

Now scale this up to 150 lb. leopards or 300 lb. bears.

There is in Little Tujunga Canyon, in L.A. is the Wildlife Rescue org. These people rescue animals from idiots that think it would be a good idea to own something that weighs 300 lbs.

08-12-2003, 05:03 PM
Originally posted by coffeecat
the male and female [snip] have to run together for miles in order to get into the mood.

I just learned something very important about my wife.



08-12-2003, 05:30 PM
Originally posted by moriah
So, for all those ferret

It's strange how many people think ferrets are wild animals. Of course, ferrets themselves add to this idea with their very uninhibited play!


08-12-2003, 06:36 PM
Reptiles are even worse! To a large reptile (snake or lizard), you (the ownwer) are nothing more than a particularly attractive bit of lunch! Why people keep these animalsis beyond me..recently (in prividenc, RI), a man was attacked by his pet monitor lizard-the thing fastened its jaws around his shull-tore off a nice piece ofscalp!\Pets like that you don't need!

08-12-2003, 08:53 PM
Edward R. Ricciuti's book "Killer Animals: The Menace of Animals in the World of Man" has a chapter on the hazards of keeping wildlife as pets and describes incidents where seemingly tame large predators suddenly attacked people. One photo shows a circus tiger attacking a boy as his trainers try to pull it off. The book may be out of print as it was written in the 70's but it's worth a read so check the library or used bookstore for it.

08-12-2003, 09:35 PM
I worked at a zoo/wildlife rehab center/sanctuary for a few years. Some of my experiences from then:

Casey- a male cougar raised by humans from birth. He loved to play hide and seek. He'd hide behind a tree or a rock in his enclosure, then as I ran past (outside the fence), he'd leap out and pace me. I was able to go into his enclosure and socialize with him, but he did at one point, tear another keeper's jacket to shreds. She was fine, but obviously scared. We think he was playing, but nonetheless, it was determined that no more in enclosure socialization would occur.

Chip-another male cougar raised by humans from birth. Lacked socialization, however and had lived in a very confined environment (6 x6 ft dog kennel) prior to being placed with us. He would never let anyone pet him. One person, deciding, without approval, to socialize, went in and was promptly attacked, receiving puncture wounds and scratches on his thigh. Could have, and probably should have, but thankfully wasn't much worse.

Grover-male coyote raised by humans from birth. Behaved much like a dog in many respects, but with distint differences. He'd come when called, play tug-of-war, and loved to be petted, but was much more opinionated than any dog I've met. I have a scar on my finger from a game of tug-of-war with him gone awry.

Rosie and Roscoe-female and male kodiaks. These were the two bears used in the movie "The Bear." No in enclosure socialization occurred with these two, but they both, especially Rosie, loved to be petted and scratched. I'm almost positive they would have loved the attention of closer socialization again, but with their size and strength, none of us were quite up to taking the chance. Rosie would lean out of her enclosure as far as possible and huff. Once, I put my face right up next to hers and was talking to her, and faster than I could react, her tongue was in my mouth (ACK!!!) and you thought doggie breath was bad.

Bonnie, Connie, and Clyde-three white tail deer that I personally hand raised from the time they were 1-2 weeks old. Connie stayed docile forever. Bonnie attacked me once, rearing and striking out at me with her front legs. Clyde attacked my now ex-husband when he (Clyde) was in rut. Resulted in puncture wounds, gangrene, a month in the hospital, and permanent damage to his leg.

Wow, I could go on forever, but had better stop now. Getting a wild animal for a pet is NOT a good idea. There are hundreds of sanctuaries set up for exotic pets which turned out to be not quite as tractable as their owners had anticipated.

Best Topics: radon testing scam price of doritos mailing checks starcraft steam chinese food farts colin farrell accent n2o tanks popeye jingle lyrics sun causes headaches wizards 3.5 ta session refrigerator fan not working double major vs double degree does jim morrison have a child do tasers work on dogs record of name change shogun 2 realm divide tips smith and barnes piano value why is march so windy pink floyd the wall schoolmaster where can i buy liquid nitrogen spray delta faucet commercial song 2015 what does a safe deposit box key look like