Last week Terry Thompson of Zanesville, Ohio ended his own life and caused the deaths of 49 of the 56 wild animals that he had been harboring on his property. Thompson had opened the cages of all his animals and set them loose before he turned a gun on himself. He was deep in debt and most likely this was the cause of this despicable act on his part. Sadly eighteen of the animals killed by the local sheriff department were Bengal tigers which is an extremely endangered animal in the wild.

Although it would be easy to blame the local law enforcement for the deaths of these animals, it was a story that never needed to happen. Ohio has some of the weakest regulations in the U.S. that made it perfectly legal to own all these animals. Much controversy and anger has erupted since then particularly at the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. It was Governor Kasich who had refused to sign an emergency executive order that was expiring after being put in place by his predecessor, banning new ownership of exotic animals. Gov. Kasich told wildlife officials not to enforce the ban because "it would hurt small businesses." Those types of "small businesses" were roadside zoos and events like bear-human wrestling matches.

To make sure this never happens again, Ohio native and university student, Liz Dumler, has started a petition that calls for the banning of sales and ownership of wild and exotic animals. Currently over 96,000 people have joined Liz and signed the petition. In response to this, Gov. Kasich has issued a new executive order emphasizing the importance of enforcing current laws around animal cruelty and public safety and asking for a temporary moratorium on animal auctions. He has however still made no effort to ban the sales and ownership of wild animals, but is taking proposals for a new statute to regulate exotic animals in the state by November 30th. Liz Dumler has vowed to keep up the pressure on the Governor towards the banning of wild animals.

While all this legal wrangling is going on, there are the 6 surviving animals from the farm that are now recuperating at the nearby Columbus Zoo. They consist of a young grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys and they are being held in isolation away from the other zoo animals and the public. The reports coming from the zoo are that they are adjusting nicely and eating well. They are also very quiet as they adjust to their new surroundings, being neither upset or aggressive. The zoo is receiving many calls of support and offers of help from around the country. A special zoo web page has been set up if anyone is interested in helping to support these innocent animals.

This was a tragedy that no one wanted to happen causing the deaths of 49 beautiful wild animals. They should never have been confined in cages on a farm in the first place. Let us hope now that their deaths are not in vain and that the proper legislation will be set up and enforced so that this will never have to happen again. Please take a minute to sign the petition to ban ownership of wild animals in Ohio if you have not already done so.

*Here is the link for the PETITION: 96,000 people have signed it

*Support the animals recovering from Muskingum County exotic animal farm( The LINK to donate to the zoo)

Responses to "The aftermath of the wild animal tragedy in Ohio"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am in AUstralia, and was deeply saddened and also furious when the news of what happened broke here. I weep for those poor animals that lost there lives, so much unnecessary killing. I really hope the gov. wakes up to himself and sees the harm not changing the law is doing. I hope the petition does its job. Good luck to you all.

  2. Unknown says:

    I am very happy to have heard that Gov. Kasich issues the executive order that will serve as the first step in changing how Ohio looks at exotic animal "ranches". There is no reason for such magnificent animals to be allowed to live in anything less than the best we can offer.

    I commend the brave law enforcement & zoo official for their difficult choices in keeping the public safe under extremely volatile and uncertain conditions. This was a tragedy that did not need to happen, but once Terry Thompson set events in motion, local officials did a stellar job of keeping local people safe.

    I do hope this awful event leads to more stringent laws worldwide.

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