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Do not attempt to pet the dingos. Do not attempt to play with the dingos. Do not throw squeaky toys to the fucking dingos or attempt to sneak scraps of food to the fucking dingos from the dinner table. If a fucking dingo follows you home, you should not keep it. DO NOT LET A DINGO PLAY WITH YOUR INFANT.

In fiction, wild animals rarely act the way that they do in real life. Those hilarious Comic Relief chimpanzees and their hilarious antics? Never once do they get violent, no matter what (they may get mad for the hero's benefit, though). When animals do get mad, they're usually easily calmed down if just given whatever MacGuffin is necessary. Is a bear rampaging through town? Just give it some honey and everything will be OK. Being a Friend to All Living Things can help, but surprisingly often it seems like nearly anyone can calm down a wild animal.

Part of the cause of this is simply that animal sidekicks are really adorable, but most of the more interesting ones are not of domesticated species, and the only rational way for the hero to get one is from the wild. Taming an adult animal is far more trouble than it's worth. Even taming a baby one never does much for softening its wild instincts. (Incidentally, reptiles are not actually domesticated; they adjust to captivity well given the right temperatures and food, but can't really be trained and are often unpredictable.)

Another strong factor is the huge number of youtube videos available showing 'wild' foxes (red white and yellow) canines (coyotes, dingos, hybrids of all types) and smaller cats (up to lynx size, though you do find the occasional cougar) living in apparent domestic tranquility. There are also an increasingly large number of wildlife sanctuaries where you can go along and 'pet a wolf'. Again, most people tend to miss that these animals only behave like pets around people they know, usually have their own 'play/sleep room' (that they trash) and are extremely difficult/expensive to look after. The domestication is usually only partial and not hereditary, and you're only seeing the successful cases. That ambassador wolf who shoves his head into your lap and rolls over begging for you to pet his tummy? Almost certainly 50% of the animals at such places would simply run away if given the chance, and 90% of the rest will eventually bite you. The keepers picked this one for a reason. So yeah.

An important fact which is almost never mentioned on TV is that social animals have a hierarchy, and that a wild animal raised in a human family will inevitably (sometimes constantly) try to "move up" in what he perceives as his pack, challenging the current leaders for dominance. Hence, a pet owner without sufficient knowledge and guts will soon find that the animal will actually own him. A solitary animal (such as most felines) doesn't even understand the concepts of "pack" or "leader," and will not take any attempts at authority seriously. While the animal will almost never really try to kill him, it fails to understand that human skin does not offer as much protection as animal fur does, and that bites intended for commanding a human around can inflict serious damage to him. Thus, keeping a wild animal resembles constant competition much rather than what humans call friendship, with mutual trust, ability to make concessions and that like.

Note that domesticated means 'genetically altered to meet human needs' Until very recently this meant intentional or unintentional selective breeding. That is why we refer to certain plants as 'domesticated' or 'wild'. Obviously, domesticated wheat is not 'tame' or 'trained' and 'wild' wheat is not going to bite you or run away in fear. A feral housecat is domesticated, but a trained bear is not.

Furthermore, once an animal is domesticated or raised by humans, no matter how "wild" it acts, it usually cannot survive on its own because it hasn't learned the requisite skills, and "setting it free" equals abandoning it to starve.

Unfortunately, there are a depressing number of people who think this is Truth in Television and are apparently under the impression that nature is just a bigger version of Disneyland. This usually does not end well...

Compare All Animals Are Dogs, which is about non-canine animals exhibiting doggy mannerisms.

Examples of All Animals Are Domesticated include:


Anime and Manga

  • Averted in Wolf's Rain. After finding Kiba asleep near a tree, Tsume's human gang members mistake him for a huge dog and thus try to kill him for food. Kiba is not happy at being surrounded by humans and shows his discontent by tearing out people's throats. Tsume, being another wolf, is the only one strong and fast enough to counter his attacks.
    • This trope is tragically demonstrated with Toboe, who accidentally killed the kind old lady who took him in and tried to raise as a pet.
  • Azumanga Daioh has a Running Gag in which Sakaki tries to pet a feral cat and is inevitably bitten. It's actually a little surprising she's ever able to get that close in the first place, since feral cats usually run away whenever humans make any concerted movement toward them. Later in the series it's revealed that the cat Sakaki keeps trying to pet is a dominant tom over a colony of around a dozen other feral cats, and thus is not only unafraid of humans, but capable of fighting them in a surprisingly effective way[1]. This actually happens to Sakaki in a later episode, where she is cornered by the tom and his fellow cats in an alley and ends up pretty badly scratched (especially since she wouldn't fight back). Later the cats surround her again, clearly intending to attack, only to be driven off by the solitary (and at that point extremely hungry and dehydrated) Iriomote kitten she later names "Maya."
    • The series also uses this trope when Sakaki meets Maya, an Iriomote Cat in Okinawa. In spite of it being a wild, meat-eating beast, Sakaki can pet it, hold it, and Maya both follows her home doesn't really show any more violent behaviour than a normal housecat probably due to Rule of Funny, since while Maya behaves like a house cat towards Sakaki, the domesticated house cats behave more like wild animals towards her, creating an example and an inversion of this trope at the same time, and Word of God says that house cats (including feral ones) see Sakaki as being large and intimidating, which frightens them, but those same qualities remind Maya of his mother who was killed in a car accident
  • The manga Wild Cats features a tame lion named Caesar (incidentally, a female) as the protagonist. The little boy who adopted her as a cub believed she was just a large house cat, and kept her even after learning the truth. Caesar grows up to be cowardly, shy, and is somewhere between a cat and a dog in her behavior.
  • Subverted by Byakuen of Samurai Troopers. At first, he looks like a tamed tiger following Ryo around, but upon closer inspection, his brown eyes hint at his true nature as a re-incarnated human. Future behavior poibts to him being a priest like Kaosu and Shiten.

Films -- Animation

  • Pocahontas: Playing with a mother bear's cubs right in front of her? That's a brilliant idea!

Film

  • Help! has a zoo tiger that is theoretically man-eating - unless everyone sings Beethoven's Ode to Joy in German. Everyone does, and it never lays a paw on Ringo.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean features a monkey who runs around and helps...usually Barbossa, but he's a bit of a mercenary. As the commentators of the DVDs are quick to tell you, that monkey was not nearly so helpful, friendly, fun, or cute for the filming process and we are seeing only the best bits.
  • A similar tale is told of dealing with the monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which took a violent dislike to the actor playing its best buddy in the movie.
  • Subverted in Bringing Up Baby. Baby the leopard is fairly docile most of the time, but most of the cast is well aware that he is still a large and potentially dangerous animal that could do some damage if unhappy. Played straight when everyone mistakes a temperamental and vicious circus leopard for the tame Baby.
  • The documentary Grizzly Man averts this trope: Cloudcuckoolander Timothy Treadwell spends thirteen summers hanging out with grizzly bears. Occasionally, it seems like he believes this trope is true -- needless to say, it wasn't.
  • Both used and inverted in Secondhand Lions. The protagonist's rich uncles buy a retired circus lion to hunt, but when they see how old and pathetic it is, they let the kid keep it as a pet. He feeds her through her crate and is afraid when she escapes. After that she just moves into the cornfield and the kid continues to feed her. He's never shown petting the lion or otherwise interacting directly with her, she's treated fairly realistically as an animal that needs a lot of space and can't be fully tamed. The lion's only other action in the movie is to attack someone threatening the boy, and apparently die of a heart attack during the excitement.

Live Action TV

  • Many of the misguided exotic-animal owners on Animal Planet's Fatal Attractions are Truth in Television examples of how mistaking this trope for reality can get you killed or maimed.
  • One episode of Endgame revolved around a man who keeps a polar bear as a pet. When the bear was just a cub everything was fine but the bear grew up and now is becoming a major problem. The bear is getting too big to be kept in the garage and the owner has gone broke trying to feed it. The protagonists ultimately manage to keep everyone safe and have the bear transferred to wildlife refuge in the Arctic. At the end the owner still does not fully understand how stupid and unintentionally cruel he was.

Literature

  • In Foundation and Earth, the main characters visit a formerly inhabited planet. When one of them encounters a dog, it takes him quite a while to understand it can be dangerous - and then he spends half a chapter (sitting on a tree, naturally) reflecting upon how there is no dangerous fauna (or flora, it seems) after twenty thousand years of the man taking care of the Galaxy.
  • A nasty subversion occurs in Oryx and Crake with the wolvogs, which are genetically engineered guard dogs. They look like dogs and act like dogs, even wagging their tails and playing like housepets, but if you get near them, they'll rip your throat out in a heartbeat.
  • Ayla in Jean Auel's Earth's Children saga has, as one of her many, many awesome abilities, managed to tame not only a wild horse but a cave lion, a pet wolf and by the end of the series the horse's two foals,.

Newspaper Comics

  • Mark Trail', which purports to educate readers about nature and responsible respect for wildlife, regularly features characters who keep raccoons, deer, even bears for pets. However, it makes it clear that the specific pet animals shown have been domesticated, often having plotlines where the tame bear or deer gets lost in the woods and is completely clueless about how to fend for itself.

Video Games

  • Heavily used, probably justified in Pokémon. Every single one of these superpowered magical beasts, based on everything from pot plants to jellyfish to dinosaurs and dragons, can be relatively easily captured, instantly tamed and may well come to act like a family pet. And why yes, this does mean you can have various kinds of giant monsters acting like a friendly dog.
    • Don't mess with a wild one, though.
    • The Pokémon anime plays it straight and averts it a lot, especially for certain species of Pokemon (like Ursaring, Metagross, Crawdaunt, and many other rough and beastly Pokemon) and especially Olympus Mons. You'll never see Mewtwo, Lugia, Rayquaza, Arceus, or Zekrom even remotely act domesticated.
  • World of Warcraft plays this straight with the Hunter class and their "Tame" ability. Granted, some animals can't be tamed no matter what, and there's always a risk of being killed by a prospective pet, but once that's over with, you've got yourself a faithful companion be it a wild lion or ravenous hyena... or a giant devilsaur.
  • In some of the "classic" Crash Bandicoot games you can befriend and ride a (baby) tiger or dinosaur.

Webcomics

  • Subverted in Penny and Aggie, where this happens.
  • Housepets: While the wolves moving into the neighborhood caused quite a stir, they're friendly enough and seem to be able to integrate without too much trouble. They're all sapient however, so it works.

Western Animation

  • Subverted in an episode of Justice League, when a depowered Superman (transported thousands of years into Earth's future by what was believed to be a Death Ray) is confronted by a pack of post-apocalyptic wolf creatures. He first tries to command them to stand down using all of the typical trained dog orders (stay, sit, heel, etc.), but they don't listen. It's only after he fights them off, kills their Alpha, and makes a coat out of its hide that they finally listen to him (and act much more like domesticated sled dogs, as a result).

Notes

  1. Feral cats are not actually as solitary as they appear; they are extremely territorial toward one another (and will frequently fight each other to try expand their territory, especially to steal territory from sick or injured members of a colony) but will band together to drive off larger predators if they repeatedly harass members of the colony
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