October 21, 2011

Tragic death of exotic animals

The big story in Ohio has been the tragic one of a private owner of a large menagerie of exotic animals in a rural area of central Ohio who reportedly released all of them before killing himself. The authorities, confronted with dangerous animals roaming wild in populated areas, shot and killed almost all the animals.

I was stunned to learn of the scale of the carnage. 48 animals were killed, including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, and eight bears. The photo of the corpses of these magnificent animals was heartbreaking.

I was also furious that it is even possible for private individuals to obtain and keep these animals in poor conditions but apparently the laws allow it. According to the news report:

Since 2004, Thompson had been charged by local authorities with cruelty to animals, allowing his animals to run free and improperly disposing of dead animals.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also received two complaints about the farm in 2008 and 2009, involving such things as pens that may have been unsafe, animals that were too skinny and dead animals on the property, said Dave Sacks, a USDA spokesman. But the agency decided it had no authority to act.

Federal officials said the government had no jurisdiction over the farm under either the Animal Welfare Act or the Endangered Species Act, since the animals were held as private property and were not exhibited or being used for other commercial purposes.

There are estimated to be less than 2,500 Bengal tigers in the world. Ohio apparently has the dubious distinction of having the most lax, some would say even non-existent, state regulations in the country. How is it possible that we allow a single individual to acquire and keep 18 of them legally? Because of that, laxity about 1% of the world's population of Bengal tigers have been killed in a single day.

I am not a fan of publicly owned zoos because they keep animals confined away from their normal habitat. The big animals especially never look happy. But at least a case can be made that zoos raise awareness of the need to protect and preserve species and perhaps even help in conservation efforts. But I cannot see any reason why private individuals should be allowed to keep rare, exotic, dangerous, and endangered animals as pets. The practice should be banned.


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I am just heart-sick over the slaughter of these priceless animals. I also do not see any reason why private individuals should be allowed to keep such animals, unless they are running a regulated animal shelter and have the resources (money, knowledge, space, etc.) to provide adequate care for the animals and to ensure the safety of the surrounding area.

Posted by Peggy on October 21, 2011 05:47 PM

This is really sad and depressing. These are some of the world's most incredible creatures. Once they are gone they are gone forever. Hope we can protect theese animals better soon... great blog post, thank you.

Posted by Mike on October 22, 2011 12:53 PM

I too love animals and find this true account so upsetting and shocking, poor animals. Like you I do not agree with zoos and yes, how did this guy acquire all these animals and how, after complaints was he allowed to keep them? Thanks for sharing that.

Posted by Juliette on October 25, 2011 06:13 AM

This is very sad news!

Posted by Tana on November 12, 2011 02:18 AM

I totally agree that the practice of keeping exotic wildlife should be banned.

The only consolation is that the animals are now free in spirit. They do not have to suffer from hunger and abuse.

Posted by Maly on December 7, 2011 09:52 AM