I am utterly disgusted...this idiot commits suicide and lets all his wild animals out (since apparently in Ohio you can own all kinds of wild animals) but the police decide to shoot them all dead - from horses, kangaroos and other wild animals. Couldn't they have simply warned everyone to stay inside and wait a couple of hours for wildlife officials to come with tranquilizers? I feel utterly disgusted
Animal bodies are seen scattered near a barn at the Muskingum County Animal Farm, near Zanesville, Ohio, Oct. 19, 2011. (WBNS)
ZANESVILLE, Ohio - Amid expressions of horror and revulsion at the killing of dozens of wild animals in Ohio — and photographs of their bloody carcasses — animal rights advocates agreed there was little local authorities could have done to save the dangerous creatures once they began roaming the countryside after their owner released them before taking his own life.
Sheriff's deputies shot 48 animals — including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions — after Terry Thompson, owner of the private Muskingum County Animal Farm near Zanesville, threw their cages open Tuesday and then committed suicide.
"What a tragedy," said veterinarian Barb Wolfe, of The Wilds animal preserve sponsored by the Columbus Zoo. "We knew that ... there were so many dangerous animals at this place that eventually something bad would happen, but I don't think anybody really knew it would be this bad."
As the hunt winded down on Wednesday, a photo showing the remains of tigers, bears and lions lined up and scattered in an open field went viral provoking visceral reactions among viewers, some of whom expressed their anger and sadness on social networking sites.
Some local townspeople also were saddened by the deaths. At a nearby Moose Lodge, Bill Weiser said: "It's breaking my heart, them shooting those animals."
Authorities said the slain animals would be buried on Thompson's farm.
Will Travers, chief executive of the California-based Born Free USA animal welfare and wildlife conservation organization, said police had no choice but to take the action they did.
"It's a tragedy for these particular animals, for no fault of their own they've been shot, and I can see how difficult that decision was for the police," he said.
Jack Hanna, TV personality and former director of the Columbus Zoo, also defended the sheriff's decision to kill the animals, calling deaths of the endangered Bengal tigers especially tragic.
The animals destroyed also included six black bears, two grizzlies, a baboon, a wolf and three mountain lions. Six — three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys — were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo.
"It's like Noah's Ark wrecking right here in Zanesville, Ohio," Hanna said.
A wolf was later found dead, leaving a monkey as the only animal possibly still unaccounted for in the mostly rural community of farms, widely spaced homes and wooded areas about 55 miles east of Columbus.
While the sheriff's office said early Thursday that the search for the monkey was still active, Sheriff Matt Lutz said the animal may no longer be a concern. "He was in an area where one of the cats actually killed one of the monkeys, and we feel he could have been eaten by one of the cats," Lutz told WCMH-TV.
Officers were ordered to kill the animals instead of trying to bring them down with tranquilizers for fear that those hit with darts would escape in the darkness before they dropped and would later regain consciousness.
"These animals were on the move, they were showing aggressive behavior," Lutz said at a news conference. "Once the nightfall hit, our biggest concern was having these animals roaming."
Veterinarian Wolfe had tried to save a tiger in a heavy bramble by using a tranquilizer dart, but the animal charged her then tried to flee. It had to be shot and killed by sheriff's deputies.
"I was about 15 feet from him and took a shot, and it didn't respond too much, and I thought we were OK, but within about 10 seconds he roared and started toward me," she said.
Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Merry, among the first to respond on Tuesday, said he shot a number of animals, including a gray wolf and a black bear who charged him from 7 feet away. He said he's an animal lover and only took pride in knowing he was protecting the community.
"All these animals have the ability to take a human out in the length of a second," he said.
The Humane Society of the United States criticized Gov. John Kasich for allowing a statewide ban on the buying and selling of exotic pets to expire in April and called for an emergency rule to crack down on exotic animals until the state comes up with a permanent legal solution.
"Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately-held, dangerous wild animals," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society, said in a statement. "In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries. ... Owners of large, exotic animals are a menace to society, and it's time for the delaying on the rulemaking to end."
Activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also called for emergency regulations and pointed the finger at Gov. John Kasich, saying the incident should serve as his "wake-up call."
"Surely, after this latest incident, enough blood has been shed for the state to take action," the group said in a statement.
Ohio has some of the nation's weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them.
Born Free USA says it has tracked 1,500 attacks on humans or other animals, and escapes by exotic animals since 1990, with 86 being in Ohio. Travers said there's an urgent need for legislation that addresses the competency of Ohioans seeking to own exotic pets and owners' ability to provide for the animals' welfare as well as public safety.
"Legislation should be there to protect the animals from the people and to protect the people from the animals," he said.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said Wednesday the governor had called on Lutz to commend the job he had done and to ask him to be part of the process of putting into law what the executive order failed to do.
"Clearly, we need tougher laws. We haven't had them in this state. Nobody's dealt with this, and we will. And we'll deal with it in a comprehensive way," Kasich said earlier in the day at a meeting of Dix Communications editors at which The Associated Press was present.
The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association also called for exotic animal regulations. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland called the deaths of the escaped animals preventable.
"By enacting more stringent restrictions on owning exotic pets in Ohio, tragedies like this one can be avoided in the future," he said in a statement.
Thompson, 62, had had repeated run-ins with the law and his neighbors. Lutz said that the sheriff's office had received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals escaping onto neighbors' property. The sheriff's office also said that Thompson had been charged over the years with animal cruelty, animal neglect and allowing animals to roam.
He had gotten out of federal prison just last month after serving a year for possessing unregistered guns.
Thompson had rescued some of the animals at his preserve and purchased many others, said Columbus Zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters.
It was not immediately clear how Thompson managed to support the preserve and for what purpose it was operated, since it was not open to the public. But Thompson had appeared on the "Rachael Ray Show" in 2008 as an animal handler for a zoologist guest, said show spokeswoman Lauren Nowell.
Washington - Conservationists demanded action on Wednesday over non-existent US wildlife ownership laws after the slaughter of 49 animals, including 18 rare Bengal tigers, set free from a private Ohio farm.
"Quite frankly, nobody should have these animals in the first place so we need to take steps to change laws to make that a reality," Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, told AFP.
"These animals belong in accredited facilities with people who can handle them appropriately."
Bears, lions, tigers, wolves and monkeys ran amok when owner Terry Thompson, 62, flung open the enclosures at his Muskingum County Animal Farm near the town of Zanesville on Tuesday evening and then shot himself.
Police officers following shoot-to-kill orders, some of them armed only with handguns, had no choice but to exterminate the animals to protect the local populace, and in some cases themselves, as darkness fell.
By the end of Wednesday 49 animals were dead. Only six were saved. One animal, a monkey, was still thought to be on the loose, if it hadn't been eaten by a lion.
Conservationists have for years demanded strict wildlife ownership laws in the United States, especially in Alabama, Idaho, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin, where rules are utterly non-existent.
"All eight states that don't have regulations should immediately have an executive order by the governor banning the keeping or sale of these animals," Roberts told AFP. "Stop people acquiring these animals full stop.
"I always ask myself what is it going to take. Is it going to take a woman getting mauled nearly to death by a chimpanzee as happened in Connecticut? Well no, people around the country can still have primates.
"Is this going to open up the eyes of the people in Ohio, which is one of the worst states in the country on the exotic pets issues? I sure hope it does, because this could have been worse, people could have been killed."
His call found one advocate in Congress in Democratic Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, also a leading animal rights advocate.
"I am hopeful that in light of this most recent tragedy, Governor (John) Kasich will heed the calls of the Humane Society of the United States and the public and quickly enact appropriate restrictions on the ownership of exotic animals," he said in a written statement.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called on states to introduce a blanket ban on the private ownership of exotic animals.
"A ban is really the answer to this," Delcianna Winders, PETA's director of captive animal law enforcement, told AFP. "Private citizens just aren't capable of giving these animals what they need."
For the World Wildlife Fund, the loss of 18 Bengal tigers was particularly devastating as the number of tigers in the wild has declined rapidly, from around 100 000 at the beginning of the last century to as few as 3 200 today.
Leigh Henry, a leading WWF expert on captive tigers, told AFP there are thought to be an astonishing 5 000 tigers held in the United States, the vast majority of them, some 95 percent, in private hands.
"I would say the current patchwork of laws in the United States regulating these captive tigers is inexcusable," she said. "In Ohio and seven other states you can just go and buy a tiger with no requirement for any kind of license or permit."
A tiny number of pure-bred tigers are protected at federal level by the Endangered Species Act and a larger number, those used for commercial purposes such as circuses or road-side zoos, are regulated by the Department of Agriculture.
But the vast majority of tigers are either unregulated or regulated at the state level. WWF's principal concern is that their body parts could end up being traded on the traditional medicine market.
Rising wealth in Asia has seen demand soar and the international trade in wildlife products is now an estimated $6 billion-a-year business.
"Wild products are preferred because they are always seen as more pure and potent," explained Henry. "They always carry a premium on price. As long as that market is there, the threat to wild tigers will increase." - Sapa-AFP
This is a fine example of free-market failure.
"Unregulated" activity involving vital aspects of life at the whim of an entrepreneur's mental stability.
I'm sick to my stomach too. the wildlife department should have handled this. I guess it was cheaper and faster to just shoot the animals. The rules need to change, it is crazy that someone was allowed to have all these animals in a private zoo.
I understand the jurisdiction issue, but couldn't the police get vets with tranquilizers, from a zoo for example? If people stayed indoors then it would have been safe to wait just a bit. I'm still very upset over this. Very upset. I was so upset I didn't even want to bring it up here.
Sarcastically, but it needs to be said,
Rare Bengal tiger pelts for sale in Ohio.
State laws regulating ownership of exotic species vary widely. Arkansas, for example, bans the ownership of “large carnivores” but grandfathered in people who already owned such creatures so they could keep them. In Delaware, owners of “non-native wild animals” must obtain a permit. The law excludes venomous snakes. Some states require owners of exotics to register them, but that doesn’t always happen. According to a 2004 Dallas Morning News report, more than two years after Texas required registration of exotic animals, only 89 were on the state’s list. Yet Texas has an estimated 3,500 tigers alone – more than live in India.
Susan Orlean makes the case for prohibition:
Wild animals don’t want to be owned. They’re wild. They are not pets; they are not our friends; they are not objects. No scenario makes private ownership of wild animals reasonable or fair. ... There will always be vain, obsessive people who want to own rare and extraordinary things whatever the cost; there will always be people for whom owning beautiful, dangerous animals brings a sense of power and magic. It must be like having a comet in your backyard, a piece of the universe that is dazzling and untouchable right outside your door. But animals live and die and breed and feel pain and can inflict pain. There is no excuse for any individual to own them, period.
(Photo: A sign warns passing motorists about exotic animals on the loose from a wildlife preserve October 19, 2011 in Zanesville, Ohio. Muskingum County Animal Farm owner Terry Thompson was found dead Tuesday evening after deputies received calls reporting wild animals on the loose west of Zanesville. The preserve kept exotic animals such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, bears, giraffes and camels. By Jay LaPrete/Getty Images.)
No scenario makes private ownership of wild animals reasonable or fair.