Thursday, November 10, 2011

Zanesville aftermath

A leopard that survived the tragedy in Zanesville, Ohio, on Oct. 18th, in which the owner of 56 exotic animals released their cages before committing suicide, forcing officials to kill 48 of them (slideshow here), rather than compromise public safety. A mere 6 animals - 3 leopards, 2 monkeys, and a grizzly bear (video here) - were taken into the custody of the Columbus Zoo.

Put down: A group of 5 men were arrested this week for their attempt to steal the carcass of one of the lions that had been shot. The night of the tragedy, the 20-year-olds drove 25 miles to the scene, where they found people posing for photos with the dead animals. A pair of the men decided to take the lion and spent 30 minutes getting it into the back of the car, with half-formed ideas of bringing it to a taxidermist. Police interrupted their attempt and pulled the body of the lion out of the vehicle. Each of the car's occupants faces up to 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine if convicted of the misdemeanor theft charges. The Muskingum County Sheriff's Office fielded a number of inquiries from those who wanted to have the remains of the animals mounted. "There's a lot of people who would pay a lot of money to get these animals," said Sheriff Matt Lutz. The carcasses were buried on the property the day after they were put down, at the request of the widow of the animal park's owner Marian Thompson.

Put up: After being transferred to the Columbus Zoo, the surviving animals were quarantined and evaluated. The zoo has received donations toward the cost of their care and feeding. Although Mrs. Thompson has the right -and the intent - to request the return of the animals, the zoo administration hopes that she can be convinced (or legally compelled) to leave them in their care. A herd of horses at the animal park were unharmed, though they had been chased by tigers and bears during the incident.

"We're doing our best now to make sure this never happens again in the state of Ohio....No more lions and tigers and bears as pets,"said Jack Hanna*, who is among those lobbying for tighter legislation on the private ownership of exotic wild animals in Ohio.

*I have an idea for next year's Halloween costume!

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