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Ohio man releases exotic animals into wild before suicide

Edited by GreenReaper
Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (11 votes)

Terry Thompson, released from prison a few weeks ago on gun possession charges and still under house arrest, released his 56 exotic pets into the wilds of Ohio before killing himself. The irresponsible action of the owner resulted in the death of 49 animals; a monkey remains on the lam, while the other six were captured and are to be placed into local zoos.

The final count of animal life taken was six black bears, two grizzly bears, nine male lions, eight lionesses, one baboon, three mountain lions, 18 tigers and two wolves.

Police claim to have attempted to capture them, but lacked equipment to non-violently capture so many large animals, especially at night, and cited public safety as their highest priority. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz recalled an incident with one of the Bengal tigers where the creature became aggressive after a tranquilizer had failed to subdue it.

ABC consulted with a local Columbus animal expert and host of the shows Animal Adventures and Into the Wild, Jack Hanna in the ensuing hunt. He's called it one of the worst events he's seen in his entire career:

I'm sorry for what happened to these animals. But also for what could have happened to people. Let's hope this never has to happen again in any state. This is a tragedy for the animal world. It could have been a bigger tragedy for the human world.

Not everyone agrees that the situation was handled properly. Huffington Post columnist (and environmental activist) Glenn Hurowitz says Jack Hanna had a history of being used as a spokespiece trying to quell controversial dealings with animals, including an interview at last year's killer whale incident at Sea World.

As things go back to normal, the event has brought about the desire for a ban on exotic pets in the state of Ohio, and surely in other states, as the story has garnered national coverage. In the end though, if this incident proves anything, it is that a dangerous animal should not be left in charge of dangerous animals. Ultimately, the man who owned these creatures was the one who sentenced them to death. It is truly a shame that he would involve the animals he cared for in his own personal turmoils.


Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

I was just about to post this weblink on Newsbytes as a new followup to two previous posts, when I saw that Sonious has made a separate article about it. Here is the link to the New York Times' coverage of the event.

Fred Patten

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There were a lot of articles, about 2,000 according to Google News.

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Poor animals.. Can I keep the monkey?

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And the cycle of abuse begins again ...

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It's no more abusive having exotic pets than having ordinary pets.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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For example, hedgehogs are considered exotic animals.

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And yet another case this year of someone committing suicide and endangering others...and this time, lives were lost...

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

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Tongue in cheek response to a tongue in cheek response, guys.

Unless that guy did find the monkey.

In that case, he might want to consider the price of monkey chow.

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It's stated that the monkey probably has hepatitis B, so probably not the best idea.

That and news is now coming in that the monkey was probably killed by another animal (a non-human one that is).

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Lol the monkey has herpes I just saw it on the news

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It worries me that this incident and the irresponsible actions of one man could lead to some knee-jerk legal repercussions that will make things seriously difficult for other wildlife sanctuaries that are being run properly and responsibly.

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That was one of Jack Hanna's concerns too in one interview, but he stated something should be done.

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It should be pretty straightforward to differentiate animal sanctuaries that have at least some minimum organisational structure and try to do things the right way from private, personal animal collections. Although laws can intentionally or unintentionally be kind of broad anyway.

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Late-breaking news: apparently Thompson's body was bitten by one of his freed tigers after his death.

Fred Patten

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im glad that they got all the animals it would have been bad if they had got a child they shouldnt let regular people own them i see alot of the animals killing there owners then i do them at the zoo and i wouldnt want to go out and see one at my house because i do have the right to shoot

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The BBC has more details of the life of Terry Thompson, and the animals he kept.

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Still more followup: Ohio governor signs order to prevent animal cruelty.

Fred Patten

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Very often the difference between humans and animals gets brought up.

Today we have seen an example of one of them; we hold more power. Our action can have great consequences, whether good or bad is up to us. One human affected the lives of 56 animals. Rarely the opposite happens (if ever).

Oh, and Sonious, I voted to the old icon :)

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Yet more followup: the surviving animals will be kept at the Columbus zoo for study, not returned to Thompson's widow who is their legal owner.

Fred Patten

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At least, some justice.

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I remember reading Jack comforting her by telling her they weren't taking her children "away" just moving them to a better place.

For someone who runs a zoo, I bet the last role he'd thought he'd have to play is social services.

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And more followup: New police report describes how lions, tiger, bear charged arriving police and forced them to shoot to kill.

Fred Patten

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About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a project coordinator and Kangaroo from CheektRoowaga, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, writing and finance