Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Exotic Animals Loose In Central Ohio

If you've been listening to, or reading, any form of news this morning you've learned that approximately fifty exotic animals were released from their cages on a private farm and are possibly roaming a rural area of Zanesville, Ohio. Zanesville is about a two hour drive north of where I live in Southern Ohio. Latest report I heard during a TV interview, allegedly, the owner of the farm possibly opened the animal cages before killing himself. While that is tragic in itself, what I find more tragic in this situation is the fact that approximately 50 exotics were being kept by a private citizen, in cages, on his own property. The sheriff's news conference confirmed 30 animals have been put down by law enforcement since last night, most of them were on the outside of the property when law enforcement arrived and the sheriff gave the order shoot to kill. There are suburbs close to the farm where the animals were kept.The sheriff also confirmed that there had been ongoing investigations following up reports of abuse and loose animals since about 2004.

Let me just say right up front there is absolutely no good reason for any private citizen to keep exotics like lions, tigers, bears, giraffes??? whatever, especially in a populated state like Ohio. It's not right. It's cruel to the animals and dangerous for surrounding homeowners. I also learned from another interview, and I haven't checked this information out myself, Ohio is one of the worst offenders when it comes to exotics being kept by private citizens. Ohio?  I was stunned. Evidently there are no strict regulations for owning and keeping exotics in the state of Ohio. 

The Columbus Zoo and The Wilds (an official wildlife preserve near Zanesville) are on the scene hoping to rescue some of the animals alive, although they didn't say what kind of animals they're looking for at this point. They've closed some schools in the area and are advising people to stay indoors. While I realize news media outlets run with this kind of story, I always try to glean what I think is credible and dismiss the hype.The deceased had been in prison for a year and had a jail record including animal abuse as well as possession of illegal firearms. This fact, if true, is troubling at any level.They were aware of the situation and had been concerned something might happen. I suppose they're all tip toeing around much of the law issue because as we all know, you can go down quick with a bad TV interview. This is an ongoing story so the information will change as the day goes on. 

A few years ago someone in the county ten miles north of us kept two lions. One of the lions got loose and was running down the main highway. Now, Southern Ohio can be wild and wooly. We have acres of forests, hills and hollers. Wildlife is abundant. We have seen an increase in coyotes, black bear and wild boar. But for someone to keep a lion, is simply beyond common sense. I never heard what happened to the lion although local news stated the owner was fined. Whoop tee doo!!!

Three times a year, the local fairgrounds, which is five minutes from my house, hosts a gigantic swap meet known as Swap Days or Trade Days. I personally quit attending several years ago because I don't like crowds AND there were people selling all kinds of animals in very confined cages as well as exotic animals. Common to see cages with baby lions or bears. I couldn't understand why they were permitted to sell them. Did the officials look the other way? when I heard about the lack of exotic animal regulations for private citizens in Ohio, it all made sense.

I am not an over-the-top animal activist but I do play by common sense rules. I cannot understand the mentality of someone who would even consider keeping 50 exotics like lions, tigers, bears, etc on a small farm just because they could. I think it's one for the psychologists to figure out.

When I first heard the story my thoughts went to horse and livestock owners. I was thinking if it were in my immediate area my shotgun would be locked and loaded and I'd be out there with my horses until all the animals from the farm were accounted for. While I don't like the idea of having to shoot any animal, I would do it in defense of my own. I suppose we'll get stories from the neighbors in the upcoming hours as news media scour the county to talk to the locals. Unfortunate as it is, it is the story of the day here in Ohio.

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