Tim Harrison, exotic animal rescue veteran

Tim Harrison–a recently retired Ohio public safety officer who’s spent much of his 30+-year career rescuing exotic animals kept as pets (and sometimes, rescuing the people keeping those pets)–explains what a public safety officer is (trained as a police officer, fire fighter and paramedic), and how lifelong love for animals manifested itself helping a veterinarian while still in school, then become a vet assistant.

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He also discusses how he began rescuing the occasional exotic animal as part of his public safety–until 1995, when he says the birth of reality television, launch of Animal Planet and shows like “The Crocodile Hunter” exploded the number of exotic animals people brought into their home (“a ‘monkey see-monkey do’ kind of thing”), triggering an attendant explosion in the number of rescues he was called in to do.

In talking about “The Elephant In The Living Room”–the acclaimed, award-winning documentary film examining the singular world of those who keep dangerous animals as pets, with Tim Harrison at the center of the film–he also recounts how and why his relationship with Terry Brumfield (his “co-star” of sorts, an eccentric fellow who keeps two lions at his house) was so friendly, kind and mutually supportive. He offers other observations about the film, including describing the exotic animal auction depicted in the movie, where you can buy everything from a kangaroo to a black mamba to a tiger…all perfectly legal. He also comments briefly on Jack Hanna and others who go on talk shows and other TV programs, presenting animals, and outlines what his organization, Outreach For Animals, does. (www.TheElephantInTheLivingRoom.com , www.OutreachForAnimals.org)

ALSO: We remember John Taylor–one of my closest friends and a pivotal figure in the success of “Talking Animals”–who lost his valiant battle against kidney cancer Aug. 20, at age 49. A truly multi-talented artist, John devised the Talking Animals logo, created (& until November, maintained) the show website, designed both the poster and t-shirt for the first Talking Animals Festival, etc.–he was also a gifted, prolific singer-songwriter-guitarist who recorded 14 albums; we hear one of his songs, “Beyond The Cloudy Vale.” (He performed on my KUCI music radio show in 2005, pictured here.)

COMEDY CORNER: Brian Regan’s “Flipper & Gentle Ben” (www.BrianRegan.com)

MUSIC: Iron & Wine’s “Serpent Charmer,” John Taylor/Whisper Machine’s “Beyond The Cloudy Vale,” Van Morrison’s “The Lion This Time,” instrumentals

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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