Schools were closed. Businesses shut down. And the majority of residents stayed locked in their homes as local law enforcement hunted down more than 50 exotic animals—including lions, tigers, wolves and bears—roaming loose on city streets. While this may sound like a scene from a horror movie, it actually took place yesterday in the city of Zanesville, Ohio.
The animals belonged to exotic animal collector, Terry Thompson, who freed them before committing suicide. According to the Muskingum County Animal Shelter, Thompson had a long history of neglecting his animals. Of the 56 roaming animals, only a grizzly bear, two monkeys and three leopards were captured alive.
“We are outraged and horrified by the events that took place in Zanesville,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “In response, we are strongly urging Governor Kasich to issue an emergency order to prevent any more needless loss of life for released or escaped exotic animals, as well as to ensure the safety of Ohio residents.”
In an official statement made last night, the ASPCA called on Ohio Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to restrict the sale and possession of exotic animals. Ohio is currently one of only eight states that do not regulate private ownership of exotic animals.
Since the vast majority of people who keep exotic pets cannot meet their needs, the animals often become the victims of abuse and neglect—they are caged, chained, tranquilized or even beaten into submission. Further, thousands of people are attacked and seriously injured by exotic pets each year.
“The exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry that contributes to the suffering of millions of animals and endangers countless people,” says Perry. “It needs to end.”
For more information about the exotic pet trade, please visit our Fight Animal Cruelty section.