Why put the animal down?

In February this year, a jaguar killed a zookeeper. The other zookeepers put the animal down. Rush Limbaugh made the following comment on his radio show:

Even if it hadn’t attacked the other rescuers, and it didn’t say attack, it said it was “approaching.” They couldn’t take any chances. In this case, I understand it. But there are times where the animal is put down anyway, whether it’s threatening anybody else or not, and I’ve never understood that. It’s just being what it is. You know, a jaguar is a jaguar. A tiger is a tiger. When they do what they do — and these are not trained animals. These are not circus animals. They are not performing out there. This is a zoo, and I never understood what is the reason why you automatically kill a predator animal when it kills a human being, when that’s what predator animals do. There’s a part of me that understands it, but not totally.

The reason I bring this up now is because I was looking through my e-mails and noticed this reply I sent to Rush:

Hi Rush,

You mentioned that you didn’t understand why they killed the jaguar. It comes from the Old Testament, actually. It’s because God views human life as sacred. Whether or not the zoo keepers believe that, I don’t know, but I’m sure this is probably where the tradition comes from.

But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. (Genesis 9:4-5)

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