After authorities in Ohio made the decision to shoot dozens of exotic animals on the loose after escaping their owner's property, a prominent animal welfare organization and wildlife conservationist are stepping up to defend the move.
Police with assault rifles warned residents to stay in their homes as they stalked a monkey and a wolf still on the loose Wednesday after authorities said their owner apparently freed dozens of wild animals and then killed himself.
Sheriff's deputies shot and killed 49 of the 56 animals that may have been freed. Six were recaptured and taken to a zoo. The last, a monkey thought to be carrying a herpes virus, was found to have been eaten by one of the large cats, the sheriff said late Wednesday.
Karen Minton, Ohio state director for the The Humane Society of the United States, was not on the scene when authorities gave the orders, but she said that it's a difficult call to make.
"We think they did their job," Minton told msnbc.com.
"Everyone's preference" is to take steps to ensure the animals' welfare, but "I certainly respect where law enforcement is coming from" when faced with a situation that poses such a great risk to public safety, she said.
Director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Jack Hanna — known to television audiences for his appearances on programs for the past three decades — said during a Wednesday news conference with authorities that the sheriff was correct to issue the shoot-to-kill order, Columbus NBC station WCMH-TV reported.
Asked in a separate interview with the TV station about the difficulties of sedating animals, Hanna said, "It's very difficult. Tranquilizing an animal in a proper situation is hard, much less right now — they're out of their confinement, it's new to them." More....