Oct 202011

UPDATE: Since writing this post, I have heard from people who have “exotic” pets that are not considered dangerous and are not deemed at risk because of domestication. I have no complaint with these individuals, provided that they adequately research and provide for their pets’ unique needs. In my opinion, any legislation brought forward needs to allow for reasonable care of non-dangerous animals by responsible pet owners.

See all the “Okey’ October” artworks!


"Born Free, Captive in Man's World" ~ Digital Artwork by BZTAT

“Exotic animals should live in the wild, not be exploited in profit-motivated zoos — or worse — as “pets” or backyard oddities by people who have a deeply misguided sense of dominion or ownership.” ~ Will Tavers, CEO and co-founder of the Born Free Foundation

Yesterday was a very sad day for animal welfare advocates, especially those of us in Ohio. According to the Sheriff of Muskingum County, OH, a man who had inappropriately hoarded dangerous exotic animals on his private land inexplicably released over 50 wild animals and then took his own life. The animals, presenting a danger to human life, were all shot and killed for the public’s safety.

I really have no complaint with professionally maintained zoos that go to great lengths to replicate natural habitats, although I do wish all animals could live in their true habitats. But the laws in Ohio allow anyone to have wild animals with little regulation. THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE.

The Sheriff’s deputies did what they had to do. I just hate that they had to do it.

You can read my thoughts on the matter on my Okey’s Promise blog. I felt the need to do something here as well to honor those lost creatures, so today’s artwork is for them.

The artwork is a digital piece that I designed from a photo I took at the Atlanta Zoo a few years ago.

In honor of my cat Okey whose “Gotcha Day” is October 30, I am making an artwork every day in October, and posting it here on my blog. As I have done with “drawing a day” activities in the past, each artwork will be available for bidding in an auction in the blog post dedicated to it.

Along with each artwork will be a “Thought for the Day” that will offer some kind of encouragement about overcoming challenges.

Okey has inspired a worldwide movement to bring awareness to the links between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence called: Okey’s Promise: Art for a Cause. All of the proceeds for the auctions will go towards the Okey’s Promise: Celebrating the Human – Animal Bond project, which is my second Okey’s Promise public art project.

My recent Kickstarter fund raising campaign for the project fell short of its goal, so I have had to start over with the fund raising. You can contribute here if you would like to support the project outside of the auctions.

To make it a little more fun, I am going to have a special contest! Everyone who bids on one of the Okey’s October artworks here on the blog will be entered into a contest for a free artwork! You don’t have to win a bid, just make a bid. All bidders will be entered into a random drawing for a special artwork at the end of the month.

Here is the info about today’s artwork:

5″ X7″ giclee’ print of digital art on paper by artist BZTAT

Comes with an acid free mat ready for an 8″ X 10″ frame

Leave bids in increments of $5 below in the comments section.

Minimum Bid $30 USD

Shipping: $8 USA $18 International

BUY NOW OPTION: You can buy this piece now for $65 as long as no bids have been made in the comments below. Simply write BUY NOW in the comments and send a payment of $65 + shipping via the ChipIn widget in the right sidebar.

Highest bid at 10:00 pm EST on Friday 10/21/11 wins the piece.

Winning bidder: make payment of bid + shipping to ChipIn widget in right sidebar.

Please allow 4 weeks for USA shipping.

  No Responses to “Okey's October: Born Free, Captive in Man's World”

  1. This event really moved me. I would hate to have been in the Sheriff’s shoes. $30.

    • I am glad that it moved people around the world. Maybe now Ohio will realize that something needs to be done on this issue. I hate that those deputies had to do what they did. We should have never put them in that position.

      Thx for your bid!

  2. You know I am so sad about these animals. Not their fault. 🙁 I would have hated to be in the sheriff’s shoes, too. Great post.


    • Thx Dorian, for your thoughts and your bid. I know the initial reaction was, “Why are they shooting them???” Nobody wanted that, except for the selfish fool who put the animals in such a sad situation. Now we know why, and it makes us sick.

  3. While i am greatly saddened by the events in Ohio and while I love your artwork, as you know, I wish you would not draw broad conclusions from single, aberrant events. My pet capybara, Garibaldi Rous, is an exotic animal and I do not think his life is diminished by living with me. People have a tendency to romanticize life “in the wild” and forget that nearly all wild animals live short, violent lives.

    Exotics are not the only animals that humans abuse. You need only think of puppy mills and the plight of Okey before you took her in. Any law that you are willing to apply to exotics you should be willing to apply to domestic animals also.

    • I am very glad that you commented, Melanie. I have thought a lot about you and Gari and Caplan throughout this ordeal. You are correct, a broad brush was used to paint my thoughts about this issue. I did not want it to include one of my favorite people in the world and her fabulous pet.

      I do not think that Gari’s life is diminished by living with you. I do think his life is enhanced. Others have been able to domesticate wild animals as pets in very enhancing ways. But the situation in Ohio is beyond a single aberrant incident. The Zanesville animal hoarder and others in Ohio have had numerous incidents where law enforcement has had few options to manage very dangerous situations.

      I see a big difference between an animal hoarder who provided inappropriate care to over 50 wild and DANGEROUS animals and a conscientious woman who is very well versed in animal conservation and her capybara. First of all, a capybara is basically tame and does not present as a danger to human life in the wild or in a domestic home. Second, there is no one who knows more about capys than you, and you do not try to project human characteristics onto your pet. Yes, you do personify him thru social media, but only to help others understand the true nature of capys.

      We have to find a way to make it possible for responsible pet owners to maintain less dangerous animals, yet outlaw individuals who have what Will Tavers calls “a deeply misguided sense of dominion or ownership.” One capy whose human is very in tuned with his needs is different from over 50 large and dangerous tigers and lions and bears that cannot be tamed.

      How do you suggest that we monitor wild animal ownership to distinguish the responsible ones from the irresponsible ones? How do we make it possible for authorities to shut down operations that are a menace to the animals and public safety?

  4. This auction is now closed. Thx for your bids!

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