Star Wars Resistance honored Kaiju films such as Gorgo and Gappa: The Triphibian Monster with the episode Bibo. The story focused on Neeku Vozo adopting a small creature that smelled horrible and ate anything. Neeku named his new pet Bibo.
Bibo’s odor caused Neeku’s coworkers distress. The creature also caused vaudevillian shenanigans on the Colossus. Could Neeku be financially responsible for any damages caused by Bibo?
The first issue is determining whether Bibo is a domestic animal that is not abnormally dangerous or a wild animal. The distinction matters, because if Bibo is a domestic animal, then Neeku would be held to a negligence standard. If a wild animal, the Neeku could be strictly liable for any damages caused by Bibo.
The general rule for domestic animals that are not abnormally dangerous, which includes the owner not knowing the animal to be abnormally dangerous, is the owner is subject to liability for any harms done by the animals if the owner 1) intentionally causes the animal to do harm or 2) is negligent in preventing the harm. See, Restat 2d of Torts, § 518 (2nd 1979).
The standard is different for wild animals, because a “wild animal is presumed to be vicious and since the owner of such animal…is an insurer against the acts of the animal to anyone who is injured…” Baugh v. Beatty, 91 Cal. App. 2d 786, 791, 205 P.2d 671 (1949) (case involving an attack by a chimpanzee).
Bibo was found in the wreckage of a Z-95 Headhunter that was recovered from the Karavian Trench. Given the deep-sea nature of Bibo’s natural habitat, he clearly is a wild animal and not a domestic one. Just a dolphin might be highly intelligent, they are wild animals and not kept as pets.
Bibo is comparable to someone keeping a juvenile marine mammal or bear cub as a pet. Yes, they are cute and adorable, but they can grow-up to be a large and deadly animal. Just like Gorgo. If Neeku had kept Bibo, he could have subjected himself to personal liability for the little guy eating somebody’s ship.
Neeku was encouraged to feed Bibo to the Rokkna attacking the Colossus, when bystanders believed the leviathan fed on Bibo. This raised issues of cruelty to animals, with people willing to sacrifice Bibo for their own safety. It is a felony to maliciously maim or torture a living animal. See, Cal. Penal Code § 597. Feeding a defenseless animal as some sort of blood sacrifice to a giant creature, no matter how smelly, arguably would be the intentional and malicious killing of that animal.
In the true Jedi tradition, Neeku found a peaceable solution to the crisis of Bibo’s mother attacking the Colossus by reuniting parent and child. Let’s just hope no one sues Neeku for Bibo’s mom attacking.