Veronica Noechel's Reviews > Rough Beasts: The Zanesville Zoo Massacre One Year Later

Rough Beasts by Charles Siebert
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

liked it

** spoiler alert ** This is a case I find rather fascinating, as I do most cases of individuals who keep wild animals captive less as simple lapse in judgement about these animals' desire to be his companions (though that is part of it), but more due to having one's identity wrapped up in a belief that they are more powerful, desirable, interesting, or intelligent than everyone else because of their perceived special ability--an almost magical thrall--that they believe they hold because in caging (and thereby controlling) these "dangerous" animals they wield power over them. Often this extends into a belief that they either have a special sort of strength or dominance over the animals they've obtained, or that they have developed a sort of pseudo-scientific "system", that allows them to interact with these animals without being considered food, obstacle, or playthings by them, as one would normally. This belief is so firmly entrenched in their psyche that it frequently remains despite repeated accidents, injuries, close calls, or even deaths of friends or acolytes.

And this certainly holds true throughout this particular case, though I'll avoid giving details right now so as not to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't read the many news stories regarding what happened at this s0-called "zoo". For the true crime junkie, I think this is a particularly lurid and bizarre story, albeit not entirely unique, though few carry things out to as dramatic an end as this man did, having used (spoiler? Sort of? It was all over the news a few years ago, and I think the fact that this is a retrospective you are supposed to know this. It may be on the back of the book, even.) the animals (he claimed to care so much about) as attempted murder weapons.

I think the book is honestly awfully easy on this guy who exploited the animals he purportedly deeply loved and ultimately killed them all in an attempt to take his rage out on everyone around him. He ignored their needs, deprived them of the ability to express even the most basic normal species' behaviors, then used them as disposable killing machines. His firm belief in his ability to keep them from attacking anyone by refusing to feeding them blood...then opening all the cages and killing himself with the intention that they would eat his body shows that he had every intention of sending them on a bloodthirsty rampage to attack the neighbors (who complained about his neglect and negligence), their animals, and the animal control workers and police he held such contempt for. He knew those animals would be shot and killed, and he used them as pawns in his revenge plan, because ultimately it was all about his ego, no matter how many times and ways he tried to convince himself and others that he cared about these animals. Misunderstood, antisocial individualist? Hardly. Sociopath, indeed.

I'm grateful to the author for writing this book because I think it is extremely important that we understand this criminal profile if we are to attempt to mitigate the damage done to the people and animals who suffer the abuse this type of crime simmers in. It isn't exclusive to the exotic animal trade, though I think it thrives a bit more easily among the very lucrative trade in endangered and threatened animals (living or dead)-as-status-symbol. Similar crimes and variations on the theme have been unleashed (no pun intended) on individuals and the communities via the breeding and training of fighting dogs and certain types of innately abusive attack dog training that parallels that same magical "dominance" thinking that they--and only they--can control and interact with an animal they've made dangerous, that this makes them stand out and ultimately gives them the very toxic power high that others find when they amass arsenals. Only these weapons are thinking, breathing, sentient, abused, and broken animals who make mistakes in judgement or simply do what they would normally do had they not been taken from their homes in the wild--or what they've been taught to do every waking moment by the people who trained them to kill. It's one of the very peculiar cases where the weapon is the victim, too. Interesting stuff.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Rough Beasts.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

October 5, 2016 – Started Reading
October 5, 2016 – Shelved
October 9, 2016 – Finished Reading

No comments have been added yet.