Zanesville Animal Escape Makes Zoo of Southeastern Ohio
Police officers were given a “shoot to kill” order if they encountered the animals. A total of 48 were shot and killed, with all but one monkey being accounted for. Jack Hanna, leading animal expert and Director Emeritus at the Columbus Zoo, agreed with police decisions.
“I’m sorry to say, but the sheriff did what had to be done,” Hanna said in an interview with CNN. “Otherwise, we would have had carnage out here in Zanesville.”
From this tragedy, people are questioning why civilians are allowed to own exotic animals in Ohio.
In his final days of office, Governor Ted Strickland signed an executive order that outlawed private possession of dangerous exotic animals. However, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources did not seek to enforce the law. Thus, in April 2011, the law expired. The Kasich administration called Strickland’s legislation “pure sloppiness.”
Although Governor Kasich did not agree with Strickland’s wording in the law, he still plans to crack down on the dangers of having civilians own dangerous animals.
“Clearly, we need tougher laws. We haven’t had them in this state. Nobody’s dealt with this, and we will. And we’ll deal with it in a comprehensive way,” Kasich stated during a meeting Wednesday.
Under current Ohio law, civilians must obtain a permit to own exotic animals.
Dr. Hogan Sherrow, assistant professor of biological anthropology at Ohio University, does not believe private citizens should be legally allowed to own exotic animals.
“I have worked with exotic, dangerous animals for almost 20 years, and in my opinion, private citizens should not be allowed to own them. There is not a single situation I can think of where an individual should own a crocodile or a lion or any other dangerous non-domesticated animal,” stated Dr. Sherrow.
“Private ownership of non-domesticated animals is dangerous for the owners, surrounding communities and animals. Further, it is damaging to the animals themselves and needs to be outlawed.”
If Governor Strickland’s final executive order hadn’t expired, Terry Thompson would not have been allowed to legally own his exotic animals. Terry had previously been convicted of animal cruelty charges against his exotic animals. Under Strickland’s law, people convicted of animal cruelty charges would not be able to obtain permits for exotic animals.
State Representative Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) plans to introduce legislation to the House of Representatives that would make stricter laws on owning exotic animals in Ohio. Mirroring Strickland’s legislation, the introduced bill would ban civilians from obtaining permits to legally own exotic animals unless they had owned such animals previously. The owners would also have to register the animals with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The bill would also require implantation of tracking devices in permitted exotic animals so they can be tracked if they escape. Finally, the proposed bill will include an emergency clause that would put that law into effect immediately after being signed by the governor.