Ohio wild-animal killings renew call for ban on exotic pets
The tragedy unfolding in Zanesville, Ohio -- in which dozens of big-game animals such as lions and bears were released, then hunted down and killed -- has renewed the call for a ban on private ownership of such exotic animals, at least from one group.
"Wild animals should be left in the wild," said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, a Washington-based animal-welfare and wildlife organization long opposed to keeping animals in captivity. "And that means individuals shouldn't have exotic animals as pets, because it's a danger to the animals and to those that live around them."
He along with countless other animal lovers were appalled by the headlines leading Wednesday's media reports.
The owner of Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, Ohio, apparently flung open the reserve's cages, slashed open its pens and then killed himself. Dozens of wild and dangerous animals -- including grizzly bears, lions, tigers and a baboon -- were then free to roam the area. Most of them were gunned down by public safety officers.
Ohio law enforcement officials were at an immediate loss to explain why the farm's owner, Terry Thompson, did what he did. Instead, they were focused on protecting citizens, who were told to stay behind closed doors while wild animals roamed the area. Where they could, authorities tried to recapture the animals using a tranquilizer gun.
But that was not always possible. At last count, 48 creatures had been killed, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff's Department.
"Shame on any state legislator in the state of Ohio, and the governor, if they don't act today to try to prevent something like this from ever happening again," Roberts said. "I sure hope that they will now heed our warnings before another animal is killed and before a human has to lose his or her life."