Zanesville Massacre Sparks Changes to Protect Wild Animals

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Zanesville Massacre Sparks Change in Legislation to Protect Wild Animals

[Ed. Note: On a related note: Big Cat Rescue Frees Male Serval from Birdcage in Basement.]

From Big Cat Rescue
November 2011

Killed were 2 wolves, 6 black bears, 2 grizzly bears, 9 male lions, 8 lionesses, 1 baboon, 3 mountain lions, and 18 tigers. Six animals survived including; 3 leopards, 2 monkeys, and a grizzly bear that did not attempt to escape their cages.

The recent events in Zanesville, OH will haunt our minds forever. Our only hope is that in the wake of such tragedy public outcry will demand better laws to protect captive exotic animals as well as the people that reside near the back yard collectors who house them.

62-year-old Terry Thompson had been released from a federal prison September 30 after pleading guilty earlier this year to possessing illegal firearms, including five fully automatic firearms. He had also been convicted in 2005 for animal cruelty. Thompson returned to his 73-acre farm where he housed his personal collection of 56 exotic animals including lions, tigers, leopards, bears, monkeys and more. For reasons unknown, on October 18th, Thompson released his collection of exotic pets, damaging the enclosures so the animals could not be recaptured, and then took his own life.

Shortly after, around 5 PM, 911 calls reported of lions and bears roaming freely along the side of the road near his farm. Officers dispatched to the scene 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 and soon regain consciousness. Thompson's farm was located just outside of Zanesville that has a population of 25,000, authorities could not take the risk of losing sight of these dangerous animals that could potentially harm or even kill nearby neighbors.

Killed were 2 wolves, 6 black bears, 2 grizzly bears, 9 male lions, 8 lionesses, 1 baboon, 3 mountain lions, and 18 tigers. Six animals survived including; 3 leopards, 2 monkeys, and a grizzly bear that did not attempt to escape their cages. These animals taken to the Columbus Zoo where they remain today. At this point, the only animal still unaccounted for is a macaque monkey that may be infected with the Herpes B virus, however authorities believe that his animal may have been eaten by one of the big cats.

Ohio has some of the nation’s weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them. Lax state laws coupled with an urge to own an exotic creature is often a death sentence for both the owners and their pets. According to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Campaign in Washington, D.C., 90 percent of large animals considered wild or exotic die within the first two years of captivity. The Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, is working with wildlife expert Jack Hanna to create new regulations in the state for nonnative animals so this kind of disaster never happens again. According to reports a task force has already been assembled and they're about six weeks away from the new restrictions.

You can speak out for these animals as well as for the countless others that are hidden away in cramped sub-standard conditions in back yards all across the country. Visit CatLaws.com to let your legislators know that you want better laws that will protect both exotic animals and the public. At CatLaws.com we make it easy for you to advocate for the animals. Each current issue is concisely outlined, choose to write your own letter or select from available pre-written letters, enter your zip code to send your letter automatically to your local legislator or choose the option of printing your letter and mailing it. With just a few clicks of the mouse and less than 5 minutes you can make a difference and protect wild animals from falling victim to tragedies such as the Zanesville massacre.