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Return of Powerful Exotic Animals to Private Ownership in Zanesville Underscores Need for Ohio House to Pass Dangerous Wild Animal Measure

Karen Minton, Ohio state director for The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement in response to the decision by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to approve the release of Terry Thompson’s surviving animals to his widow, Marian Thompson:

“Muskingum County is still reeling from the deaths of nearly 50 tigers, lions, bears and other animals after they were released by a suicidal Terry Thompson last October. Many people both locally and nation-wide thought this tragedy would spur lawmakers to move swiftly to pass laws banning the private possession of dangerous wild animals to prevent similar tragedies. However, just six months later, Thompson’s widow, Marian Thompson, may be taking the surviving animals, including a grizzly bear, two leopards and two monkeys, back to Zanesville since they have been cleared for release from an Ohio Department of Agriculture quarantine.

The Humane Society of the United States commends the Ohio Senate for passing S.B.310, the Dangerous Wild Animal Act, which would restrict ownership of exotic pets. The impending return of these animals to Mrs. Thompson, who by all accounts lacks expertise, resources and safe and humane facilities, underscores that the absence of sound policies on exotic animals in Ohio allows this sort of dangerous circumstance to recur.

No more individuals should die or be injured by privately held exotic animals in Ohio. There should never again be a crisis like the one in Zanesville, and no more powerful wild animals should be kept in someone’s backyard or basement as pets.”


Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440; rcontreras@humanesociety.org