Film Review: The Conservation Game

Film Review: The Conservation Game title=
Scene from "The Conservation Game" (courtesy photo)
Reads 5137

By edhat staff

Directed by Michael Webber
Starring Tim Harrison, Carney Anne Nasser, Jeff Kremer, Rus Muntz, Keith Gad
World Premiere, Documentary

If you were lucky enough to get a ticket to The Conservation Game (it 'sold out' due to streaming caps) or have a pass, you will be a lot more informed about the ugly reality of trafficking and abuse of exotic animals, particularly big cats.

This has been a big topic recently with the crazy success of "Tiger King" on Netflix (and there's an interesting bit of overlap that occurs in this film) and with regular news stories about people who are 'shocked and saddened' when their pet tiger/python/chimpanzee turns and injures them - or worse. Director Michael Webber addressed the problem of the unregulated exotic animal market in his 2010 film "The Elephant in the Living Room," which also played at SBIFF.

In this new film, he works again with Tim Harrison, a retired Ohio police officer now dedicated to exposing people who trade in big cats and pushing for regulation of this market. While your cat or dog requires registration and a license, your pet tiger does not!

Together they seek out the so-called animal experts, such as Jack Hanna, who regularly appear on talk shows with their 'ambassador animals'. These are usually very young tigers or leopards who purportedly come from local zoos. Webber and Harrison delve into the origins and the fate of these animals and uncover a very dark world (hint: Joe Exotic was not an anomaly).

The doc has some real tension as they circle closer to the culprits in this story, and even involves secret recording and filming - the scenes at the exotic animal auction are truly shocking. The good news is that they also work with an animal rights lawyer, and as a team is effecting real change in legislation to document and protect exotic animals.

This film will make you rethink animal rights, and hopefully, respect these animals which were never meant to be 'pets'.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will take place March 31st through April 10th, 2021 online and at two free ocean-front drive-in theatres. More information, festival passes and tickets are available at

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a-1617815542 Apr 07, 2021 10:12 AM
Film Review: The Conservation Game

I was shocked by this film, wow! It exposes Jack Hanna and all those other "animal activists" showing off tiger cubs on morning talk shows who say the animals are ambassadors and safe at an accredited zoo. They are not and the film proves it. They're from backyard breeders who sell these animals at auction and pimp them out to private parties and wherever they'll make a buck. It shines a light on how awful Jack Hanna is and his Colombus Zoo in Ohio, how they're more for profit than education.

Bird Apr 07, 2021 09:30 PM
Film Review: The Conservation Game

Great film! I am sorry there is a cap on the number of viewers. (Why is there a cap?) ---- But it shocks me that apparently so many people believed the crap about "ambassadors". This would not be happening except for the willing people supporting this unbearable cruelty. Thanks to SBIFF for showing this doc. and I hope it wins an award and helps shut down these awful roadside "zoos" and the evil folks who participate in this trade.

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