By James Eng
The case of an Ohio man who set loose his collection of wild bears, lions, tigers and other beasts before apparently killing himself has animal-welfare organizations renewing their call for a clampdown on ownership of exotic animals.
“Exotic, dangerous animals simply do not belong in private hands. It’s not worth the risk,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA.
Authorities believe Terry Thompson, owner of a 73-acre exotic-animal farm near rural Zanesville, Ohio, opened the cages to free his collection of animals before shooting himself Tuesday. Muskingum County sheriff’s deputies frantically raced to track down the 50-plus animals that escaped before they could harm anyone.
Deputies fatally shot 49 of the animals — including 18 rare Bengal tigers. Six were recaptured.
The last missing animal, 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.
Thompson, 62, had a criminal record. He was released from federal prison just last month, after serving a one-year term for weapons violations stemming from the discovery of more than 100 guns on his property in 2008, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
He was also convicted in municipal court in 2005 of cruelty to animals, having an animal at large and two counts of rendering animal waste without a license, according to the Dispatch. His preserve was home to a menagerie of lions, tigers, bears, wolves, giraffes, monkeys and other animals, many bought at auctions.
Animal-welfare groups say Ohio is notoriously lax when it comes to wild-animal ownership. It's one of fewer than 10 states that have no rules regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals. More....