The owner of an Ohio farm with exotic animals like tigers, lions and bears died recently and somehow several of the animals got loose. An Ohio news outlet reported a cheetah, lion, and tiger were roaming the streets of Zanesville. Police were following orders to kill them with guns, but staff from the Columbus Zoo were also trying to tranquilize the same animals in order to relocate them.
“Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately held dangerous wild animals. 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,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society. (CNN.com)
If you haven’t been following animal ownership issues in Ohio, what he is referring to is the need to regulate exotic animals there, where the lack of regulation leads to problems such as a bear-mauling that left an employee dead on the property of Sam Mazzola, who is notorious for owning many exotic animals.
A woman who lived near the private animal facility said she once heard a lion roaring all night and she was afraid for her children. No one knows how secure or insecure the fences were on the property, and if the former owner was even cognizant of the state of his own animals. Previously he had been on trial for animal cruelty when his cattle starved to death.
There may have been 51 exotic animals on his farm. A number of them were shot and killed by police, who first showed up without tranquilizers for some reason. Also, it sounds like law enforcement arrived on the scene before Columbus Zoo staff were alerted to the situation, when they should have been first to assess the animals condition and could have made plans to relocate them.
MSNBC published a photo of one of the lions that was still behind a fence when the officers shot and killed it, but what did the lion do to deserve that? One law enforcement official said they had to shoot and kill a tiger because it was ‘going crazy,’ but that is exactly the kind of non-scientific, unprofessional interpretation that results in violence against animals. A more informed and rational explanation came from a Columbus zoo manager who said the animals were probably panicking due to the sudden appearance of a multitude of strangers with guns and the gunshots.
Law enforcement officials clearly are not the appropriate first responders for animal situations, because there are too many cases where they jump to the conclusion the only option is to shoot and kill animals that sometimes are completely innocent and pose no threat to anyone. Also, in cases where the animals are dangerous, there is an option to tranquilize, capture and relocate them potentially.
Just recently a similar situation took place in North Carolina where over a half a dozen officers gunned down a man’s pet deer on his farm, without warning.
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