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Los Angeles zoo-owner Michael Conrad, insanely devoted to his animals, stops at nothing to eliminate obstacles to his work. While the police investigate two deaths by wild-animal maulings, Michael commands one of his lions to kill Jeffrey Stengel because of Stengel's insistence that Michael sell his zoo terrain for a housing development. Michael's wife, Edna, is suspicious of his actions and also resents his harsh treatment of the mute keeper, Carl. After an argument, she decides to leave Michael and resume her circus career. Her agent, Jenny, is killed by a gorilla after Michael overhears her make a tempting job offer to his wife. Meanwhile, Edna and Carl prepare to run away but are discovered by Michael; in a rage, he beats Edna and reveals that Carl is his own son, mute since childhood when he watched a lioness kill his mother on Michael's command. Michael commands a lion to kill Edna; Carl goes to her aid and is forced to kill his father in self-defense. The dying Michael calls in vain for his beloved beasts to save him.