49 Wild Exotic Animals Killed in Ohio TragedyPublished October 21, 2011
Flickr User TaranRampersad
Starting October 18, 49 exotic wild animals kept in the Muskingum County Animal Farm (a so-called “wild-life preserve" in Zanesville, Ohio) were forced to be killed after preserve owner Terry Thompson freed them and then committed suicide.
Among the animals killed in Ohio by sheriff’s deputies were 17 lions, 18 rare Bengal tigers, six black bears, two grizzlies, a wolf, a baboon and three mountain lions. Officials said the dead animals were being buried on Thompson's farm.
"It's like Noah's Ark wrecking right here in Zanesville, Ohio," commented TV personality and former Columbus Zoo Director Jack Hanna in a Daily Mail article.
Why Thompson decided to do what he did is still a mystery.
Recently, he was jailed for a year on weapons charges, and, according to pet-abuse.com,had a long history of animal cruelty. In 2005, he was arrested on charges of cruelty for the torture of bison and cattle on his property, and had been warned over 30 times this year alone (and repeatedly over the past 10 years) to gain better control of the animals on his preserve.
The tragedy, it seems, could have been prevented. Days before he left office, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland issued an emergency order prohibiting people convicted of crimes of animal cruelty from owning exotic animals. Thompson would have been prohibited from owning exotic animals if the emergency order had been upheld, but it expired in April 2011.
The emergency order was not renewed by the incoming Governor John Kasich on the grounds that the order was difficult to enforce, and that it would (in some way) have a negative impact upon small businesses.
This writer feels strongly that if the incoming governor had the foresight and good sense to renew Governor Strickland’s order, perhaps these magnificent exotic animals on Thompson's preserve would have been duly removed, preventing this horrendous tragedy.
"Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately held, dangerous wild animals," commented Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "Owners of large, exotic animals are a menace to society, and it's time for the delaying on the rulemaking to end."
Criticizing Governor Kasich for allowing the order to expire, HSUS called for an immediate rule to crack down on ownership of exotic animals until Ohio reaches a permanent solution.
Concerned about Ohio's lack of regulations concerning exotic animal ownership, Liz Dumier, a student at Ohio University and a Change.org member started a petition on their website asking Governor Kasich to issue an executive order immediately banning exotic animals in his state. Tell the governor to take action at once by signing the petition.
Of all the animals on Thompson's farm, only six were captured safely. Those animals (two monkeys, three leopards and a grizzly bear) were safely transported to the Columbus Zoo.
I feel strongly that our magnificent and precious exotic animals must be protected with strict controls and regulations. We must do everything possible to prevent another Zanesville, Ohio massacre.
What is your opinion about unregulated/unlicensed private ownership of exotic animals? Share them in a comment.