Monday, April 30, 2012

Surviving Exotic Animals Scheduled to Return to Zanesville, OH, Farm

Remember back in October when 56 exotic animals, including bears, lions, mountain lions, wolves and Bengal tigers were released from reportedly neglectful conditions in Zanesville, OH? Most of the animals killed themselves or were killed by police officers. Five of the animals, a spotted leopard, a black leopard, two monkeys, and a brown bear managed to survive after being nursed back to health at the Columbus Zoo.

Now those five animals will be released back to the care of the widow of the man who initiated last fall's carnage:

Five wild animals will soon be returned to the widow of a man who released them into the Ohio countryside last year, state officials said on Monday, raising concerns of a repeat of the panic that gripped the state when dozens of beasts including lions, tigers and bears roamed free. Seven months after Terry Thompson released 56 exotic animals near Zanesville, Ohio, and then committed suicide, the Ohio legislature still is struggling to draft regulations on wild animal ownership. Ohio is one of only a handful of states with no restrictions on exotic animal ownership. The state Agriculture Department said on Monday it had no legal way to prevent the five remaining animals - a spotted leopard, a black leopard, two Celebes Macaque monkeys and a brown bear - from being given back to Thompson's widow, Marian.

She has said she will take them back to the farm and put them in the cages they fled last October.

"This raises concerns, as she has indicated the cages have not been repaired, and has repeatedly refused to allow animal welfare experts to evaluate if conditions are safe for the animals and sufficient to prevent them from escaping and endangering the community," the Agriculture Department said.
It makes me sick that these animals will be returned to their old cages. My previous article on the subject described animal enclosures that were way too small for the animals within. Columbus Zoo veterinarians described a tiger with a missing tail which was apparently bitten off by another animal in an adjoining cage. The same veterinarian staff described tigers in a cage "filled with standing water, rotting carcasses, and lots of bones". One wolf was kept in an old car. A zebra was stored in a horse trailer. Other animals showed signs of malnutrition.

My hope is that the Columbus Zoo is successful with its effort to block this transfer of custody or else Thompson will listen to the concerns of those speaking out for the animals and make some major upgrades to her animal pens!

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