By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
With the community, he is empathetic and defiant.
"I don't want the community at large to feel like I'm just an old convict, you know? That I'm just this evil, menacing villain in their community. I made a mistake. I feel like I paid for it. And I am a productive member of society again. I'm not out to do anyone any kind of injust. I would like to make my amends to anyone who feels like they need amends made. And I can understand their fears and their concerns.
"But on the other hand I want them to know that I'm doing everything in my power to be able to run my business and to be able to preserve these endangered animals. If they feel like there's not enough room in their community for me and these majestic animals, I'll just have to say I give you my apologies. I'm licensed by the United States federal government, and the community's going to have to deal with that."
We're at the part of the story where there's supposed to be an answer. Why are two tigers dead? Who fucked up? Was it Zettler Cude for leaving a gate propped open? Or was it Reginald Parr for letting Zettler Cude take care of his cats at all? Was it Parr's parole officer for not giving him enough time to finish his perimeter fence? Or Parr, for not finishing his perimeter fence faster? Did the parole officer waste hours and transcend her jurisdiction by searching Cut and Shoot for Parr? Is it Parr's fault for being on parole in the first place? Is it Blount's fault for responding so slowly? Is it an unidentified bystander's fault for taking target practice on a 700-pound tiger? Or is it an entire community's fault for wanting to see the threat disappear? And if it is, what will you do differently when a 700-pound tiger comes sniffing around the door through which you send your kids to school?
Who didn't fuck up?
People want to be on a team, so they'll say, defensively, Well, they had to kill those tigers; yes, it's a shame, but their owner should have taken better care of them so they wouldn't get out where we, really, had no choice but to take them down. But this is not the truth and the whole truth.
Or they'll say, offensively, Bullshit, those feed store yahoos never intended to bring those tigers home alive; that was nothing but a drunken redneck safari party. This isn't the truth and the whole truth either.
The people who killed the cats have one way of telling the story. The people whose cats were killed have another.
There is no one explanation that stands whole in its integrity and fills all the empty holes. The people who aren't talking about what happened are sticking to the time-honored maxim of mind your own business. The people who are talking begin shading their accounts when the story drags them toward an area of personal responsibility, either for killing the cats or for getting them killed.
Reginald Parr sounds eminently reasonable when he states, as he often does, that tigers are "not something for everybody; I don't believe individuals should own them," until it registers that Reginald Parr is himself an individual who owns them and sometimes sells them to other individuals.
The reason for the shading is that everyone involved has something to hide.
Reginald Parr needs to hide how threatening his big cats can be, just how beyond his control they fundamentally are, and how disproportionately subject to human error is their fate.
The men with guns need to hide how very much it satisfied them to shoot those two tigers dead.
And hidden still further are some basic facts: that human error is a reasonable expectation, that tigers are fearsome, that hunters will hunt, that parents will protect their children from perceived danger, that crowds are difficult to control.
Once you know these facts, you don't need to know anything about Reginald Parr or the Montgomery County Animal Control Department to know what happened to Binanca and Sybil last November and why. What happened was the only thing that could have happened.