Series / Fatal Attractions
Fatal Attractions is a documentary series on Animal Planet
that first aired in 2010.
The series focuses mainly on people who keep rare and dangerous exotic animals as pets. Each episode focuses on a particular group of animals (IE: Tigers, chimpanzees, snakes, crocodiles) and then proceeds to tell the backstory of a different person's life with the animals. The episodes also feature commentary on friends and family of the people in question as well as insight from experts on animal and human behavior. Often, the stories end in tragedy with either the owner and/or pet being horribly mauled and killed.
Not to be confused with the film Fatal Attraction
Provides Examples Of:
- All Animals Are Dogs: Or, rather, "Wolves are just like dogs, right?". Wrong, very wrong. One story features a woman who kept a pack of wolf-dog hybrids as pets thinking they would be just as tame and friendly as a pure bred dog (And because she believed she had a "spiritual connection" to wolves). The wolf-dogs mauled the woman to death.
- Likewise, the episode even has a few experts state that a common misconception regarding wolf-dogs is that they are more "tame" than a regular wolf. In reality, such hybrids are actually more unpredictable than a pure-blooded wolf, and therefore far more dangerous.
- One episode featured a woman in Australia who treated crocodiles like dogs. Even going so far as to take one on car rides with her.
- All Animals Are Domesticated: Subverted. Nearly every episode features someone who is horribly mauled by an animal due to not realizing how dangerous they can be. The people shown to take proper care of their exotic pets state that they are well-aware that they are dealing with a potentially deadly wild animal.
- Apocalyptic Log: One episode centered around a man who died of a deadly krait (a type of venomous snake related to cobras) bite. The man actually wrote down his experiences of the effects the venom was having on him after he lost the ability to speak.
- Bambification: Averted. One episode features a man who thought he could keep a deer as a pet, believing them to be pure, gentle creatures of the wild. He was gored to death by a buck that stabbed him in the eye and pierced his brain.
- Bears Are Bad News: There's an entire episode about a woman who was mauled to death because she kept feeding the bears near where she lived.
- Cool Pet: This show seems to set out and avert it.
- Everything's Better with Cows: Subverted. One episode features a man who was trampled to death by his prized bull. Another featured a man who was also trampled by another bull, but survived thanks to his friend arriving in time to save him.
- One episode even featured a man with a pet bison (or "buffalo" if you prefer) that he'd take everywhere with him, even in his own home. He'd even try to ride it like a horse. To clarify, unlike the bulls mentioned above, which are domesticated, bison are completely wild and extremely dangerous due to their unpredictable nature.
- Family-Unfriendly Death / Family-Unfriendly Violence: Nearly everyone who keeps an exotic pet on the show is either brutally killed or is horrifically mauled. This includes a man whose face was ripped off by a chimpanzee (albeit not the one he and his wife raised), a woman who was bitten on the skull by her pet panther, and a woman who bled to death after being bitten by a Gaboon viper.
- Hypocrisy: The show tries to go out of its way to make reptiles seem like shifty cold-blooded (pun not intended) killers who wait until just the right moment to kill whoever the episode's victim is while portraying mammals as simply wild animals that were just acting on instinct when they attack their owners. Never mind the fact that reptiles are also acting on instinct and that numerous carnivorous mammals (lions, wolves, etc.) are known to kill just for the sake of killing (Known as surplus killing).
- Even reptile owners are not safe from the hypocrisy. Owners of exotic mammals (chimpanzees, tigers, wolves, etc.) are ofter portrayed sympathetically as misguided people. Owners of snakes, crocodiles, and lizards are almost always portrayed as egotistical, mentally disturbed, or Loners Are Freaks type of individuals even when they share the same traits as owners of dangerous mammals.
- It's All About Me: Some people on the show care more about owning an exotic animal than the fact that said animal might end up hurting other people.
- Jerkass: A few of the people on the show come off as this. Most often the people who act like they know more about an exotic animal than the actual experts.
- Karma Houdini: Averted in one episode. One woman kept a large number of tigers in New Jersey in horrible conditions. She allowed the tigers to breed uncontrollably, would interfere any way possible with the law to prevent them from inspecting her enclosures, and constantly denied that one (or possibly more) of her tigers had escaped. While her tigers were taken away from her due to the poor living conditions they were in, it was her husband (who was already over-worked from having to work the props on Broadway) who got the worse punishment. (He was severely mauled by one of the tigers.)
- Maniac Monkeys: An entire episode is dedicated to people who keep chimpanzees as pets. The infamous "Travis the chimp" incident is even mentioned at one point.
- Manipulative Bastard: Sam Mazzola, one of the owners shown in one episode, used this trope to get his way and gain possession of bears and big cats.
- Manipulative Editing: The show seems to go out of its way to portray reptiles as mindless killers by using ominous music, extreme close-ups, and/or showing them mostly in shadows.
- The owners of exotic pets are often portrayed as either having an unhealthy obsession with the animal, feeling they have a special bond with the animal, or being an introvert with emotional problems. On the flip side, the show does also show people who are responsible with their exotic pets and are well-aware of the danger.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: A whole episode is centered around people who keep crocodiles as pets.
- Once an Episode: Each episode features at least one person getting mauled and/or killed by the animal in question, even if that person wasn't keeping the animal as a pet.
- Panthera Awesome: Several episodes focus on people who kept big cats as pets.
- One episode in particular focused on a man who kept a pet tiger in his apartment in New York City. Nobody knew about it for years until the tiger attacked his owner.
- Raised by Humans: Several episodes feature people who raise wild animals as though they were children—see the trope page for details.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Usually played straight, unfortunately.
- Another episode about crocodiles portrayed them as either evil mindless killers or lovable pets with no middle ground (IE: intelligent predators that should be treated with respect and are NOT good pets).
- Even the reptile pet owners fall under this. They are often portrayed as introverted beings with severe psychological issues rather than just as normal people who happen to love reptiles.
- Luckily, this is subverted in a couple of episodes about snakes. One episode featured a group of friends who just happen to love reptiles. They do point out that they find the idea of keeping venomous snakes to be insane and dangerous. Another episode featured a man who was bitten by his cobra and had to be rushed to the hospital. The man milks snakes for their venom for a living so that anti-venom can be produced to save lives.
- Another episode even has some herpetologists point out that anyone bragging about getting bitten and surviving is likely not a real herpetologist, as they see nothing brag-worthy about admitting you got bitten (as admitting it means you likely made a mistake leading to the bite, thus damaging your credibility in the field). Also, getting bitten and envenomed can in fact make you allergic to snake venom even if you do survive.
- One episode was making a big deal about how a man's pet Nile monitors ate his body after he died. This is something that any carnivore, even a domestic cat or dog, would do if it got hungry enough.
- Science Marches On: One episode featuring crocodiles had a herpetologist come on and talk about reptile behavior. He states that the concept of "play" is purely mammalian and that reptiles would have no need for play. More recent studies show that at least Komodo Dragons have been documented engaging in playful behavior, however.
- An episode about a man who was killed by a tiger had an expert state that the tiger was getting "revenge" on the man for teasing him for so long. More likely, however, the tiger simply attacked the man because it saw him as a threat to its territory.
- One episode about snakes had an expert state that snakes aren't very intelligent and they act more on instinct rather than learned behavior. More recent studies have shown that snakes are more intelligent than previously thought, and that constrictors (IE: Boas, pythons, etc.) actually do learn how much pressure they need to squeeze unto their prey to kill it and how long they need to squeeze (More recent studies show that boas/pythons will only stop constricting once they're sure their prey is dead by checking to see if the heart is still beating).
- The very first episode featured Nile Monitors being depicted as shifty unusually patient killers who infect their prey with their bacteria-filled bites and wait for them to die of the infections. In reality, it's now believed that not even Komodo Dragons behave in such a way.
- Savage Wolves / Noble Wolf: One episode featured a woman who kept a pack of wolf-dog hybrids because she felt she had a spiritual connection with them.
- Shoot the Dog
- Too Dumb to Live: Most, if not all of the people on the show fall under this.
- One episode featured a woman who thought she had become immune to snake venom after one of her rattlesnakes had bitten her. The woman in question actually studied herpetolgy (the study of reptiles), so you'd think she'd know that many times venomous snakes inflict what are known as dry bites, or bites that don't contain venom. This would later be her downfall as she ended up dying after being bitten by her highly venomous Gabon viper.
- As mentioned above, the woman who was mauled to death because she kept feeding the local bears.
- Another episode had a woman actually go out of her tents to sleep under the stars in the African savannah, only to be mauled by a hyena. Same episode also had a drunk man keeping his door open and allowing the hyena access to his home.
- One episode featured a man who said that he shared a "special bond" with a crocodile and even went swimming with it. The two actually did spend 23 years together without incident, but the fact that the crocodile had suffered a bullet wound to the head (potentially brain damaging it) may have played a part in this.
- One episode featured a woman who was nearly killed by her pet leopard after it bit her skull. She said in an interview that, if given the chance, she'd get another one for a pet.
- Another episode featured a man in Canada who claimed he could completely control his pet tigers and lions, even going so far as to let them sun themselves outside with nothing but a post and a rope to restrain them (and even let a lion cub roam around freely in his neighbors' yards).
- Tranquillizer Dart: One episode gave a good illustration of how these work in Real Life. When a man was discovered keeping a full-grown tiger in a New York City public-housing apartment, a NYPD officer rappelled down from the roof with a tranquilizer gun to shoot the tiger through the window. When he did, the tiger immediately charged, hitting the wall with such force that the entire building shook. Only then did the tranquilizer take effect, enabling officers to safely remove the tiger from the building.
- You Can Panic Now: Advocates for responsible exotic pet ownership have accused the show of fearmongering, spreading misinformation and making many of the exotic pets depicted seem far more evil and dangerous than they really are.
- In all fairness, the show does focus mainly on the dangers of keeping deadly animals, such as big cats and alligators/crocodiles, as pets, and a few episodes do show people who are responsible with their pets (though the show still acts like the pets will turn on their owners at any given time).