When 26-year-old Hazhir Kargaran went on a trip to Las Vegas with a few of his UC Berkeley law school pals, he may never have imagined it landing him in jail. We’ve all seen movies like “The Hangover,” in which several friends get into strange situations while on vacation in the city that advertises itself as a place where “what happens” there “stays there.” However, this was not the case for Kargaran, who has been convicted of participating in beheading an exotic bird that lived in the Flamingo Hotel’s wildlife habitat. He and two of his buddies had evidently been indulging a bit too much in alcoholic beverages when they chased a 14-year-old helmeted guinea fowl named “Turk” into some bushes, after which witnesses said they exited with the body of the bird – separated from its head. This, of course, is considered animal cruelty and Kargaran will pay with a 2-day jail term, a fine and hours of community service.
Though the Kargaran incident happened in Las Vegas, it is interesting to draw parallels with California law on the subject. What would have happened, for example, if the three then law students had beheaded a similar bird in Los Angeles? CA Penal Code §597 prohibits the intentional and/or malicious mutilation, maiming, wounding, or torturing any animal. However, had Kargaran had more knowledgeable defense attorneys, and if the case had occurred in California, then it could have been argued that he and his friends had no intention of harming the animal – they were simply drunk and thought it might be fun to chase the large bird around the hotel grounds. It is obvious that they did not chase after “Turk” in order to behead the poor bird. Kargaran, perhaps, ought to have paid a little more attention in class!