Warning – This post contains graphic images
As someone who loves and fights for all wild animals, tigers in particular, I have to say something about what happened in Zanesville, Ohio this week.
For those who don’t know, a very troubled man released 56 wild and exotic animals from a “preserve” before he (possibly) committed suicide. Only 6 were safely captured. Of the remaining animals, 49 have been killed. The last remaining animal, a monkey, was most likely eaten by one of the large predators.
Jack Hanna aided local officials in hunting down all of these animals, including bears and large cats. As a well-known animal lover and conservationist, he understandably had a lot to say about this loss.
“When I heard 18, I was still in disbelief. The most magnificent creature in the entire world, the tiger is… to lose 18 Bengal tigers in the world today is beyond a tragic loss.”
There are only approximately 1,400 Bengal tigers left in the wild.
Despite this fact, I agree with their actions. It’s very likely these animals lived in less-than-ideal conditions (to say the least) and even the happiest and fattest wild animal is still wild. “People have to understand something… human life comes first… no one loves animals more than me, but human life has to come first”, said Jack Hanna. On that subject, Debbie Leahy, captive wildlife regulatory specialist for the Humane Society, said:
“We do not fault them for using lethal force. What we’re finding, in places where they have lax regulations … rural sheriffs and local animal control officers are being forced to deal with issues ranging from rampaging chimpanzees to tigers running amok. …We have found, in some cases, they’re just as traumatized as the rest of us. They don’t want to have to shoot these animals. People shouldn’t be blaming (authorities). They should be blaming the Ohio government for not taking action to prevent this incident.”
And I do. The biggest tragedy is that Terry Thompson was somehow allowed to own these animals in the first place. According to the Chicago Tribune, there are numerous reasons why Thompson should never have been allowed near an animal, let alone be responsible for the care of any. His numerous strikes include being charged with animal cruelty 11 times since 2004 and deliberately underfeeding his horses (allegedly) then fed them to the lions when they died. And yet somehow, he managed to meet the bare minimum requirements for keeping these animals. Disgusting.
AP Photo - Tony Dejak
“Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately held dangerous wild animals,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said to CNN. “In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries because the state hasn’t stopped private citizens from keeping dangerous wild animals as pets or as roadside attractions. Owners of large, exotic animals are a menace to society, and it’s time for the delaying on the rulemaking to end.”
Always one to look for the positive in something, I truly hope this incident finally forces Ohio (notoriously lenient on this matter) to enact to stricter laws regarding the housing of wild and exotic animals by private citizens.