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Animal Massacre in Zanesville, Ohio

Do you see that picture above?!  Among those animals you see lying, dead, on the ground are bears, monkeys, lions and rare Bengal tigers.  

What happened here to cause such a horrible scene?

Terry Thompson, the owner of a wildlife preserve in Zanesville, Ohio, had released his brood of exotic animals and then shot himself.  Officers were forced to gun down the animals as “these animals were on the move and were showing aggressive behavior,” said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz.  After everything was over, 49 animals – 18 rare Bengal tigers, 17 lions, 6 black bears, 2 grizzly bears, 3 mountain lions, 2 wolves and 1 baboon – were slaughtered.  According to ABC News, Jack Hanna, wildlife expert, ‘said it was especially heartbreaking to see so many Bengal tigers killed when they are on the verge of extinction’.

While this tragedy is unbelievable, and a macaque monkey is still on the loose, it was a lucky day for 6 of the animals – 1 grizzly bear, 3 leopards and 2 monkeys – as Terry Thompson never released them from their cage and they were still found there.  They are being taken to the Columbus Zoo.

Read and watch the full story here.

My mother brought this incident to my attention and it absolutely pissed me off.  First, it upset me on how little laws Ohio has pertaining to keeping wild and exotic animals as pets.  Second, and most importantly, while the officers and everyone involved said there was no other way than to kill these animals, there really had to be another option.

The photo above isn’t even the worse.  This is the worst:

How, after everything that these animals had been through – being killed and I guess their owner Terry Thompson abused them – could the officers just throw their bodies on top of one another like that.  Also, if you watch the video, you see a few of the carcasses being dragged behind a tractor and even though they are going to be “buried”, these animals are special beings and deserve to be treated with more respect.

Another thing that upset me to high heavens was the fact that, if you read the article it explains how a vet tried to tranquilize one tiger and, according to the article, the tiger ‘”just went crazy” and started to run, so officers were forced to shoot it with lethal ammunition’.  Why, after one try, did they give up and just kill it?  Maybe the tranquilizer wasn’t strong enough – a tiger is a big animal – so why didn’t they get stronger tranquilizers?.  Why didn’t they try the amount of tranquilizers they had on the smaller animals such as the wolves and monkeys, instead of killing them right away?

The whole thing seems absolutely surreal to me and the fact that there was no other option than to kill these animals is unbelievable.

While the 49 animals, including already endangered species, were killed, there is something we can do to prevent this “situation” from happening in the future.  Whether you’re an Ohio resident or not, visit this site and demand that action be taken to prevent the ownership and sales of exotic animals.

We must not let the above majestic animals die in vain.


*Note:  Click on the links above to find out more info and to see my sources.  The pictures above were taken from Google Images.  The thoughts and words above are my own: © Kalie Lyn, 2011.


About Palm Trees & Bare Feet

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14 responses »

  1. Listen lives were at stake this is what had to be done, would you have gone out there and helped catch them I don’t think so you would have been pissing your pants.

    • I would have jumped at the opportunity to try and save those animals that were put through so much. Of course it would’ve been scary but I would’ve gotten over my fears and done it.

      There were so many other options than shooting and killing them. How do you think they treat the injured lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) in the zoos? The police should have requested the right amount of tranquilizers from surrounding zoos (or honestly, Jack Hannah should have brought some) so they could correctly and effectively tranquilize the animals and get them safely to zoos and away from people.

      Thanks for your opinion, Steve! 🙂

  2. Its a shame the Anmails had to pay.For the mans actoin.What a Nut. Dont let this Happen Again.People dont need kind of pets.

    • It’s definitely a shame. And yes, people need to realize that animals like that, that are meant for the wild and need lots of space, aren’t content living in small enclosures and as “pets”.

      Thanks for your comment, Mike! 🙂

  3. Hadn’t seen these photos before and it really brings it home what a dreadful waste it all was. The chap was a real mess and certainly shouldn’t have had wild animals under his control, but then, who should?

    • Agreed. It was so sad and yes, definitely a “waste”.

      By the way Animal Couriers, I LOVE your blog and your organization. I’m from the United States but currently live in Spain and I plan on adopting a dog in the future and if I move back to the States, I would trust fully in Animal Couriers to safely bring my pet to my new home! 🙂

  4. Thank you for writing this.. as someone who is very close to where this happened I have a VERY stong gut feeling that were not being told all of the facts here.. Something is very wrong here in Eastern Ohio.. I promise this is not the end here..

    • Thank you for commenting, Kylee. Yes, after what happened, hopefully the citizens of Ohio (along with citizens of other States that allow exotic animals as pets) take action and prevent the owning of wild and exotic animals.

      I also agree with you that all the facts weren’t told. There is absolutely NO reason that many animals had to die like they did.

  5. I agree that the laws regarding the exotic animal trade and the laws governing ownerships of non-domestic animals need to be fixed. I too cried about the loss of such beautiful animals.

    However, after doing some research on availability of the tranquilizers suitable for such large animals and how long they take to work, I feel that law enforcement really didn’t have much choice. The Columbus Zoo (which I believe is the closest facility to Zanesville that would have anywhere near enough tranquilizers to handle so many animals) is more than an hour away from where the animals were released (I also don’t like it that the media keeps calling this event an “escape”, when they were purposefully released). Given that the animals were released about an hour before dark, the tranquilizers and traiend personnel wouldn’t have been able to get there before they were scattered and unableto be found due to lack of light.

    According to Jack Hanna and other experts in large animal care, It’s hard enough to successfully tranquilize an uncaged tiger or bear during the day when you can see where it is running off to; trying to do so in the dark (assuming you have the proper training, which the sheriff’s deputies didn’t) is exponentially more difficult and there is no way to track the animal until the drug has time to take effect and the animal falls unconscious.

    Please don’t blame law enforcement, blame the man who released the animals and the lawmakers who continually fail to make good laws until after a tragedy occurs (and sometimes not even then). USe your outrage and energy to picket the Ohio Statehouse and demand that the General Assembly and Governor Kaisich change the law and enforce it so that this kind of thing can never, ever happen again.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I agree with everything you say and while it was a terrible – and preventable – loss, the real lesson after all of this is that Ohio (and other States that are lenient on what kind of pets its citizens can have) needs to enforce new laws that don’t allow people to keep exotic animals. We need to speak up for the animals that died, and the ones that survived, and all the animals that are kept as pets all over the world so, like you said, this NEVER happens again.

      While I do stay strong to my opinion that there had to be another way to capture these animals instead of killing them – helicopter that could have dropped nets over the animals, cages with bait in them, or even shooting to wound, not to kill – I do not blame the officers who were involved. They aren’t trained to deal with this kind of occurrence – even though, if Ohio is going to keep their current laws, they should train the future police in what to do if this type of thing happened again – and they did the best they could.

      Once again, thank you for your opinion and knowledge.

  6. I don’t want to seem like I am yelling or putting anyone down. However tranquilizer darts don’t work like magic. The darts take time to enter the system of an animal. There is a specific amount of “ammunition” that can be safely given to an animal. If you gave them a stronger dose that, in the long run, could do more harm than good. When an animal feels the medication going through out the body, it stresses the animal out. Animals act out, they do what they do. They are wild beings. As it was getting close to being sundown, law officials did what they were ORDERED to do. It isn’t like they had just gone out and shot the animals. God forbid someone should have lost their lives over this entire situation. Honestly, I am starting to believe that there should have been loss of life in order to show people that tranquiler darts don’t work like magic, or like movies portray them. All in all, I am glad that there were no human beings harmed by these beautiful creatures. What needs to be done instead of jumping all over everyone who “acted first, thought later” is to educate people about exotic animals. As well as making laws tougher for people to obtain these animals for their own shits and giggles.

    • I definitely agree with you. There does need to be education about exotic animals and if Ohio – and other States that allow wild/exotic animals as pets – will continue to keep their present laws of owning these types of animals, then we need to start with educating the younger generation – the older generation are A) not going to listen because B) they already have their minds set on what they feel is “right” and “wrong”. They need to know the harms – to both animals and people – of owning exotic animals and how it doesn’t benefit the species or the population to keep them as “pets”.

      However, like I said on my last reply to a comment above: I do stay strong to my opinion that there had to be another way to capture these animals instead of killing them – helicopter that could have dropped nets over the animals, cages with bait in them, or even shooting to wound, not to kill – I do not blame the officers who were involved. Like you said, they were ORDERED to do it. They had no official training with what to do in a situation like this so they did what they were told and the “best they could do” throughout what transpired.

      Everyone has their own opinions on what happened on that tragic day and what should have/could have/had been done. The comments I have received – many of them not published because they were a little too harsh – since I wrote this post range from calling me “stupid” for thinking tranquilizers could work and agreeing that something other than killing the animals could have been done. My opinion is just another one, like everyone else’s, and it has been interesting to learn what everyone thinks about the whole thing.

      All in all, and what the real lesson is, is that laws need to be enforced and people need to be educated so that NOTHING like this ever happens again.

      Thanks for your comment mentalrat. 🙂

  7. I am going to post something so offensive you would want to track down my IP and report me to the police. People talk about human issues and preserving human lives first. Whenever we catch an animal abuser there are myriad of comments going ” Animals first, Humans next”.

    Honestly…what is so good about us as a species anyways? Christians have a thing called Dominion which means we have authority over the flora and fauna. Muslims are well known for their slitting throat-better meat attitude and so is it the case in every religious text.
    Am I the only person who doesn’t give a fuck about our species? We are self centered, egoist and selfish to an unimaginable extent. Most animals have been on this planet way before us and will continue to flourish long after we disappear. I do not care about most of my fellow man….It may sound very harsh but we need AIDS and cancer and earthquakes and tsunamis to keep our numbers in check. We are the biggest virus here…..worse, we are a virus with conscious to boot!

    PS- Vegetarian girls are better in bed.

  8. Pingback: Link of the Day: Exotic Pets Ban Moving Forward | Palm Trees & Bare Feet

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