October 19, 2011
Zanesville Incident of Wild Animals on the Loose Renews Call for State to Ban Dangerous Exotic Pets
As local authorities respond to the escape or release of dozens of lions, bears, and wolves from a private menagerie in Muskingum County, The Humane Society of the United States is calling on Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to immediately issue emergency regulations restricting the sale and possession of dangerous wild animals.
The Kasich Administration allowed emergency rules put in place by former Gov. Ted Strickland to expire in April. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has convened a working group to develop standards, which it will apparently recommend to the Legislature for action, at some undetermined time frame.
“How many incidents must we catalogue before the state takes action to crack down on private ownership of dangerous exotic animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries because the state hasn’t exhibited the foresight to stop private citizens from keeping dangerous wild animals as pets or as roadside attractions, and the situation gets more surreal with every new incident, including this mass escape or release of large animals in Muskingum County. Local authorities are now spending enormous resources on personnel, helicopters, infrared, and equipment chasing down and killing free-roaming exotic animals in order to protect public safety. It’s the Wild West, and the empty promises, the delaying, and dilly dallying has to end now.”
Authorities reported that Terry Thompson was found dead on his Zanesville property, and cages were open where he had kept dozens of lions, bears, and wolves. The animals were roaming the streets, and many had already been shot by responders.
Ohio is one of fewer than 10 states that don’t regulate private ownership of dangerous wild animals, jeopardizing public safety and animal welfare. Addressing the issue was one of the elements of a deal struck by The HSUS and agricultural leaders in the state to advance a series of animal welfare policies in the state.
Members of the media, please call Katie Jarl at 301-258-1483.
For more information, visit our Ban Ohio Exotics page