Terry W. Thompson, the owner of a private zoo, apparently a wanted to send a big big screw-you gesture to his critics, so he opened predators’ cages before he killed himself yesterday. The local sheriff shot most of them. Columbus Zoo’s Jack Hanna is helping calm nerves and track down a mountain lion.
But the incident should come as no surprise, especially here. Central Ohio is the Wall Street of the country’s exotic animal marketplace. The biggest auction for exotic animals just 65 miles away. The case demonstrates why private zoos are terrible for both people and animals. Ohio is now hurrying to tighten some of the most indulgent rules for keeping and selling novelty animals.
Just this month Erik German wrote in The Daily about the Mt. Hope auction, known as the Mid Ohio Alternative Animal and Bird Sale. The auction house, which doesn’t allow pictures, has three sales a year of everything from kangaroos to zebras. “The Elephant in the Living Room” took secret video there. So, Ohio has been dumping crazy animal problems on the country for years.
“It’s like Noah’s ark, like, wrecking right here in Zanesville, Ohio,” Hanna told the press. Hanna is defending the sheriff and governor, but then using the platform of TV interviews to push for shutting down exotic animal farms and auctions.
Ohio has one of the worst exotic animal policies. In January the lame duck governor signed a temporary law banning new ownership of many exotics. Exotic animal traders and owners feel embattled by big government. Henry Hampton, owner of Farm at Walnut Creek and Rolling Ridge Ranch complained in the Amish-Heartland last year that that restrictions were unfair: “We’re concerned about the whole animal business. It’s under attack. Some people have some ammunition and they can use it to justify restricting ownership of exotic animals from everyone.”
Terry W. Thompson was convicted in 2005 of abusing and rendering cows on his property, according to pet-abuse.com. He did six months on home monitoring. Recently he got out of jail on a weapons charge.
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