Ohio Safari Slaughter

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This photo shows wild animals killed by Zanesville, OH sheriff department

In one of the most tragic and horrific examples of why individuals should never be allowed to own exotic animals, Terry Thompson, of Zanesville, OH unlatched the cages which housed lions, tigers, bears and wolves on his property, then committed suicide.

48 wild animals, including lions, bears and wolves escaped into the surrounding area, causing Ohio sheriffs to hunt down, shoot and kill the menagerie citing concerns for human safety. Why the sheriff’s department did not first try to tranquilize the animals and offer them to nearby the Columbus Zoo remains unanswered.

Some of the animals were still in their cages at Thompson’s farm when authorities arrived. The animals, including three leopards and some primates that were living in the house, are being taken to the Columbus Zoo.

One large cat was struck and wounded on I-70 Highway. The State Highway Patrol was expected to kill the animal.

A caretaker on the property told deputies that 48 animals lived outside the house in cages. More animals, mostly monkeys, baboons and apes lived inside Thompson’s house.

Terry Thompson was released from a federal prison just three weeks ago, after serving a one-year term after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided his property in June 2008, seizing more than 100 guns. In April 2010, Thompson pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Columbus to two federal charges: possession of a machine gun and possession of short firearms without serial numbers.

This tragedy may well have been avoided but were it not for the poor judgement of Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who after taking office, allowed a law to lapse signed by former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland prohibiting anyone who had been “convicted of an offense involving the abuse or neglect of any animal pursuant to any state, local, or federal law” from owning exotic animals.

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33 Responses to Ohio Safari Slaughter

  1. DMason says:

    This makes me insane. So utterly unnecessary and needless. I hope the people of Ohio are happy with their choice in governor. Kasich should be charged in a court of law for letting the law lapse. He is guilty of criminal negligence.

  2. The Real Adam says:

    How awful.

    Why didn’t the sheriff’s department try to anesthetize the animals or call the Columbus Zoo before they killed these poor creatures? Looks like the sheriff department had a grand time in Zanesville killing these big cats and bears and they didn’t even have to travel to Africa.

  3. ♛Show Queen♛ says:

    My eyes are filled with tears. This is inexcusable. Too bad John Kasich’s lifeless body isn’t laying among the innocent animals who met an untimely end thanks to his ineptitude.

  4. One Fly says:

    That is a terribly sad picture.

  5. Harry says:

    Ohio is a terribly sad place.

  6. Tyroanee says:

    There are no words…the fact that man is allowed to house these beautiful is shameful, but to blow them away for them wanting their own freedom is insanity when we have the ability to tranquilize and choose not to do so.

  7. Dee says:

    It is naive to think that the previous law (preventing those convicted of previous cruelty or neglect of animals from owning EXOTICS) would not have prevented this situation as law enforcement wouldn’t have had time to act and gain evidence to re-arrest this man. If they had tried, he probably would have done just exactly what he DID do. A better law restricting ownership of exotics to those involved in rescue/philanthropic endeavors needs to exist in EVERY state. So very sadly, law enforcement had no choice in doing what it did to protect the public. A rational discussion needs to prevail here….and rational action turned into a sensible law.

  8. CEL says:

    Dee, that’s the most rational response on this post! Thank you for being sensible.

  9. Barb Mast says:

    This is a very sad story, and a tremendous loss of beautiful animals. Unfortunately, these animals are wild and the sheriff and others did what was needed to protect their community. The families surrounding this area had a huge threat to their lives and the lives of their children, pets etc. It is easy to cast judgement, I am sure it wasnt an easy task for those who had to complete it. These animals are beautiful but dangerous, and should not be able to be kept as pets. The man who had these animals made the poor decision to do this and the animals are the ones who paid for it…that is sad, he was suppose to care for them. Dont place judgement, let’s just hope this stimulates a change in laws.

  10. This is Extremely poor reporting. Read it on real news sites, they had a vet shoot a tiger with a tranquilizer, and it got mad and started running around; in the interest of saving human lives they began using lethal force. The animal expert (and I’m sure even more compassionate than you all) Jack Hanna stated that trying to tranquilize them at night would be futile, and it was approaching nightfall when this slaughter happened.

  11. Idaho Librul says:

    The deceased owner of the property was charged and convicted of animal cruelty back in 2005.

    According to a report on CNN, Thompson paid a fine and served no jail time. What is remarkable to me, county officials where this illegal zoo is located were aware of the exotics in 2005 and failed to step in and seize the animals. Why would they be so laissez-faire?

    I find it hard to understand how a sheriff department within 30 miles of a major zoo (the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium) claims they had no access to dart rifles capable of tranquilizing these beautiful and innocent creatures? Their only choice was to kill them?

    Heads need to roll. This was a break down from Gov. Kasich’s office to the local sheriff.

  12. Matteo says:

    For Rep. Dennis Kucinich says Ohio has among the weakest laws governing exotic pets in the country.

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/1011/Kucinich_Too_much_monkey_business.html

    In light of the dozens of lions, tigers and bears (among others) set loose this week from a Zanesville farm, the Ohio Democrat on Wednesday called for more rigorous restrictions on ownership of exotic pets in the Buckeye State.

    In a press release declaring “Protect People, Protect Animals,” the congressman said the Buckeye State has among the weakest laws governing exotic pets in the country – while having among the highest number of incidents of involving such animals.

    “By enacting more stringent restrictions on owning exotic pets in Ohio, tragedies like this one can be avoided in the future,” Kucinich said.

    At last count, according to the Associated Press, 55 of the 56 animals were either killed or captured. The farm’s owner, Terry Thompson, apparently released all the animals before killing himself.

  13. Rachel says:

    Dee – With all due respect, I appreciate your effort to be reasonable but, don’t you think it’s more than a little naive to think Republican Gov. John Kasich, who Christopher pointed out, allowed a law banning exotic pet ownership to expire, isn’t going to embrace a new law to ban exotic pet ownership in the future? This is, after all, the same Republican governor who actually signed a law allowing Ohio residents to carry loaded firearms into bars. Nothing makes less sense than liquid courage and a loaded pistol. Unless you happen to reside in Ohio.

  14. Poor Reporting opines: “The animal expert (and I’m sure even more compassionate than you all) Jack Hanna stated that trying to tranquilize them at night would be futile, and it was approaching nightfall when this slaughter happened.”

    Seriously? Try to connect the dots.

    Jack Hanna isn’t about to rock the boat. He runs the Columbus Zoo and the facility relies heavily on state funding. If he’s too critical of state bureaucracy, he may find funding cut or even, himself out of a job.

  15. Seabec says:

    Kasich is bad news. Ohioans are reaping the rewards of voting this clown into office now.

  16. Jim says:

    This could be the poster for the Republican campaign. Senseless slaughter due to a yet another fuck-up Republican governor.

  17. Think about it if you can says:

    Jack Hanna is crying crocodile tears -he has SEVERAL places where he keeps exotic animals – not to mention that one of his places a fire killed all his top money makers -oops- and a giraffe died recently at the zoo from getting his antlers caught in a electrified fence – Hanna its ok for him but he will fight to take away anyone else’s right = more money for his animal businesses.

    These animals should not be contained at all – leave them in the wild and protect them there. Oh but Hanna would lose some of his billion$

    Ohio is a loser State -get used to it.

  18. feminazi says:

    I watched the local sheriff on TV say there are only four tranquilizer rifles in the entire state of Ohio. I would like to know how the sheriff knows this? And like others said, with a major zoo just down the I70 in Columbus, I would like to know why they weren’t called to come help deal with this? Zoologists are better equipped to handle loose wild animals than shoot-on-first-sight cops.

  19. Woodcliffe says:

    Tranquilizer dart guns in Ohio are as rare as intelligent voters.

  20. Tragic. Simply tragic. The Bengal Tigers, especially, are extraordinarily rare and should not have been killed in cold blood like that. I am OUTRAGED at this killing of these animals. OUTRAGED. I don’t even know what we can do to protest this. If anybody’s got any ideas, I am all ears, but I want something to be done about this senseless killing of all these animals. I am just beyond words at this point. I’m angry, I’m sad and I’m OUTRAGED and I just feel so devastated about this.

  21. Damien Lee says:

    Why in the world was Terry Thompson even allowed to house these animals? It is obvious by his repeated offenses of the law involving the ATF and federal Law that he was unstable and could barely even take care of himself. it makes no sense. For someone to be a caretaker of Dozens of wild animals, it takes a responsible and stable individual. I hate that these animals were not tranqualized, and it seems that NOBODY will have to answer for this horrible crime against Gods creations.

  22. Katie says:

    Seevral people are correct, the law lapsing has nothing to do with it. People like this, do not care what the law states, they do as they please. He didn’t properly care for the animals, they state in the stories that he lived on a wildlife reserve, when in fact, he lived on his farm, kept them in pens, and the animals frequently escaped and roamed. Some of the animals were in fact tranqed, but it was determined when the tiger turned on the humane society worker after being tranqued, that they were not fast acting enough. Human safety was paramount. I am saddened at the animals’ deaths, but I also understand why they did what they did.

  23. Marcus Ybanez says:

    ATF busted Thompson a few years ago on weapons possession.

    You mean to tell me they didn’t see tigers, lions, bears, wolves and monkeys when they visited the property? If they had acted, perhaps, this horror would not have taken place.

  24. Arizona Leatherneck says:

    Ohio is one of eight states that does not ban owning exotic animals.

    ASPCA Calls for Emergency Order Banning Exotic Pets in Ohio

    Ohio is currently one of only eight states that do not regulate private ownership of exotic animals.

    http://www.aspca.org/Blog/oh-exotics.aspx?utm_source=Blog_ExoticOhio_102011&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_campaign=Blog_ExoticOhio_102011

  25. Thanks says:

    Thank you Barb Mast and Poor Reporting for being some of the only logical and reasonable people commenting on this post!

  26. Bill Hussein O'Reilly says:

    Jack Hanna is a jackhole.

  27. Silver Jobs says:

    I am glad no humans were hurt. Ultimately the decision to kill the animals was effective. It is tragic but also unreasonable to expect the Police to be able to mobilize zoo experts in time to be 100% certain that no human loss of life occurred. If you agree that the local human life was more important it is hard to argue that the sheriff made the right call.

  28. Silver Jobs says:

    Did not make the right call is what I meant to say. As in I agree his decision to kill the animals. Again, i’m glad no humans were hurt as that is the most important thing unless you place more value on animal life than human life. The majority of people would agree that human life is more valuable than tiger life. Or even 18 of them…

  29. Marburg says:

    Protecting human life does not need to come at expense of animal life.

    The fact is, Ohio has some of the most lax laws when it comes to exotic animal ownership. That said, with Ohioans in possession of big cats like lions and tigers and other large animals like bears and wolves, commonsense would suggest law enforcement would be better prepared for such an event and preparation means tranquilizer guns.

    Apparently, living in Ohio is much like living in rural Kenya. When happened in Zanesville didn’t have to happen. The outcome was preventable.

  30. Olivia says:

    I fully agree that if Ohio is going to allow people to have exotic animals, they should have effective ways of dealing with a disaster like this one without destroying these beautiful animals. But then again, one would think that drilling in the Gulf, one would have the ability to know what to do with major oil leaks. With Republicans and selfish corporations, just can’t count on much responsibility.

  31. Scottie Mack says:

    So, While everyone is waiting for a tranquilizer gun to show up, the Cats or Bears chew up a small child or maybe a whole family….Then, you’ll be screaming, “How could you let this happen”? “Where is our “to protect and to serve”?
    Please look at both sides of the fence before you start “armchair quarterbacking” the decisions of law enforcement.

  32. Olivia says:

    For Scottie Mack: I agree that we certainly would NOT want to see harm come to a child or any human. But again, if this state is willing to allow people to own exotic animals, which I feel has obvious potential for disaster, they should be better prepared to “serve and protect” the people AND the animals. Basically, it is just a very very sad situation and I am sad that it was allowed to get this far. They knew that the animals were out there; he had been in trouble legally for firearms, but also for animal cruelty when his cattle died because he “could not get up the hill to feed them”.

  33. Sassy Booty says:

    Some will side with law enforcement not matter how boneheaded their judgement is just because they have a badge and a gun. It’s a shame.

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