Social Question

whitetigress's avatar

Is it absurd or justified that they would shoot and kill the exotic animals in Ohio?

Asked by whitetigress (3129points) October 20th, 2011

Recently in Ohio exotic animals were shot and a large quantity at that, what are your thoughts on this happening.
Here is a link for anyone new to these currents.

48 Ohio Exotic Animals Dead

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48 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I live right near where this happened, and I don’t see any other way that it could have been dealt with. Jack Hanna and other professionals from the Columbus zoo, as well as local veterinarians, joined the authorities in an attempt to protect human lives in this catastrophe.
They did attempt tranquilizers, but ultimately ended up killing the majority of the animals, including 18 Bengal tigers, which are an endangered species.
The problem isn’t with how the authorities handled the situation. The problem is with the laws, or lack thereof, in relation to owning and handling exotic animals in Ohio. This man should have never had the animals that he did, let alone the number of animals, and he has a history of charges dealing with animal abuse and neglect. I even heard that he fed his dead horses to the lions, after the horses had died of starvation.

The problem is really not with how it ended, it’s that it ever started. It is tragic, and it was disastrous… but it should have never happened in the first place.

Also, I don’t like being paranoid that there is a hepatitis B positive monkey potentially loose in my area.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t think the average Ohio cop or any other cop for that matter has a lot of knowledge about how to deal with a lion or tiger. In order to protect the citizens and themselves I can’t see that they had much choice. I agree with the theory that an individual should not be allowed to keep such animals. Hell many want to ban pit bulls, but you can have a lion???? I love animals and feel sad that it had to be done, but I don’t see any alternatives.

ucme's avatar

I’d class the incident as a necessary evil. Tragic & unfortunate, but no reasonable alternative course of action.

chyna's avatar

Sadly, it was their only recourse. They couldn’t tranquilize them and risk having them running off to fall asleep only to wake up later and terrorize the neighborhood. These weren’t “petting zoo” type animals, they were wild, exotic animals that shouldn’t have been kept in those conditions originally.
On a side note I read this sentence on line: Police are still investigating to determine if the animals were let out of their captivity before the owner committed suicide. This was late yesterday after they had determined the owner had indeed let them out.

rts486's avatar

I agree with all the above.

jrpowell's avatar

The number of Bengal tigers killed was almost 1% of all of them in existence. 0.0072 to be exact. And for some perspective. That is like 50 million people killed in a afternoon.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@johnpowell that’s incredibly sad.
Also, according to this morning’s news, the missing monkey was eaten by one of the big cats.

tedd's avatar

The problem is the laws on the books.

But the Sheriff’s initial reaction was poor as well. I also live very close by, and as my girlfriend and many of her friends (by proxy mine) are Zoo keepers at the Columbus Zoo, they have all met and heavily interacted with Jack Hannah (as have I to a lesser extent), I feel I have some kind of inside view of this.

Supposedly upon receiving multiple calls of exotic animals on the loose, the Sheriff sent deputies, armed only with their side arms. This despite the fact that the Sheriff’s have tranquilizer guns at their disposal to deal with the small local bear population, and other escaped exotic animals (frighteningly enough, the only thing unique about this incident was the number of animals that escaped). They also failed to immediately call the Wilds, a huge exotic game reserve located in Zanesville (where the animals were roaming free). The keepers at the Wilds are highly trained and equipped with high powered tranquilizer guns capable of taking down Rhinos. I’ve heard through several friends that the people at the Wilds are ROYALLY pissed off.

So the deputies arrived at the guys property, and found over 20 animals still on the property. The property is a fenced in yard built to hold animals in should they escape their main cages. The crazy owner had left the gate open so they could escape (which led to the initial calls to the police cuz some had left). But rather than just close the gate to the property and go looking for the escaped animals… the deputies were ordered to kill every animal on the property… with their side arms.

I know that the police don’t exactly train for this scenario, but that is a huge F up to me. Not to mention many of the animals killed during the ensuing day were hiding in the woods. They could’ve been tranquilized and then just watched until it took them down. But this wasn’t really attempted until Columbus Zoo and the Wilds staff arrived the next morning, by which time roughly 40 of the animals were already killed. Six of the remaining 14 or so were saved thanks to tranquilizer. I also don’t know why it had to be a shoot to kill order. How about shoot to incapacitate? The Lions and Tigers were EXTREMELY out of their element on a 40 some degree, rainy Ohio day. They were probably freezing to death already. Wound them and call the vet team.

When I saw Jack Hannah speaking… knowing the type of guy he is. He’s upset, sad, pissed, etc, etc. He’s somewhat covering for the police because he knows they didn’t know what to do, they don’t really train for this. But just looking at his eyes, if you know him, you know it didn’t have to be like this.

Maybe this will convince our idiot governor that he shouldn’t have ended the ban on exotic animals when he got into office. Wonder if he’ll still considerate it an “infringement on personal freedoms.”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@tedd I heard the same about them shooting animals on the property with their side arms, as they were walking out of the gate. Instead of closing the gate.

I also don’t think you have to know Jack Hanna to see the sadness in his eyes, I actually made a remark about it yesterday. You can just see it in his face.

tedd's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf When my girlfriend saw a picture of the animals that had been put down… She cried for quite a while.. Honestly I had to hold some tears in myself.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@tedd yep. I cried, too. In fact, I had to take a moment because I thought I was going to throw up, honestly. I think everyone was disturbed by the photos, but your girlfriend and her coworkers being somewhat involved in the insanity must have added to the intensity of the situation. The whole thing is surreal.

Brian1946's avatar

What an atrocity. :-( That idiot should never have been allowed to have those poor animals.

I heard that Kasich was criticized for letting a ban on the ownership of exotic animals expire.
Wow, apparently I agree with Ted Nugent. ;-0

Buttonstc's avatar

Kasich is an idiot and a slave to Repub. political ideology.

Yes, they’re all about individual freedom and all but there is a commodity known as “common sense”. Apparently he is lacking in that.

The wingnut who released these animals prior to killing himself should have never been allowed to keep that many Bengal tigers or any other kind of animal with all of the repeat citations he kept accumulating.

His personal freedom to be crazy (and the negligent Ohio laws) cost all of those animals their lives. I’m heartsick about it.

The blame should be put squarely on the negligent legislators for standards so lax to begin with. The police were totally untrained for something like this.

Hopefully some good can come of this all if it enables Jack to talk some sense into the dimwitted Kasich.

He was a ninnny everytime he opened his mouth on TV (he used to be a talking head for one of the cable networks) and he’s as stupid now as he was then.

How did he manage to get elected ?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Buttonstc agreed. A few of the people I know, and myself, have been saying that it makes us embarrassed to live here.

Buttonstc's avatar


I just read the link you posted and I also agree with Nugent.

Regardless of whether anyone agrees with him politically or not, Nugent is a really intelligent guy who sticks consistently to his principles.

Even Bordain respects and likes him despite polar opposite political views. The episode of No Reservations featuring the visit to his place was really interesting.

I also like his end quote in the article you linked “I’m the only dangerous carnivore on the property. And Mrs. Nugent keeps me in line”. Cute, funny and self-effacing. There are far worse people and stupider than Nugent on this planet.

One Ohio Gov. being a case in point.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I can’t claim to know whether it was the right thing to do. In one article I read a “wildlife expert” said that tranquilising the animals in order to get them back into captivity without harming them would be impossible so, I guess, the sheriff had no choice but to order the “shoot to kill” policy. However, I am incredibly saddened by this and a seriously hope it was genuinly the only way of solving this issue. The killing of endangered species always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth even if it is for the safety of humans.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

People can justify many things. And yes it is absurd.

mrrich724's avatar

I imagine that they could have done it more humanely and saved the animals if they had extra time to plan and get the right resources. . .

But what if in that time the animals killed a person, or multiple people? Would it be worth it? Is one human life worth a tigers life? I’d wager that the majority don’t feel that way.

Also, the more time that goes by gives the animals a longer period of time to spread out and “get lost” making it harder for the authorities to find the creatures.

I kind of feel like it was an easy way out, but at the same time, justifiable b/c like I said, what if that extra time and effort spent gave one of the creatures time to kill someone’s child, or anyone for that matter?

Hibernate's avatar

I’d say justified .. though some might not agree with me.

The owner could have not set the free before suicide .. I’d blame him but can’t do squat to a dead man.

tinyfaery's avatar

aren’t there laws against killing endangered species? They should be brought up on charges. Unless a life was immediately in danger, tranquilizers should have been enough.

jca's avatar

I found it upsetting and very sad for everyone involved.

As far as “unless a life was immediately in danger,” should they have waited until the tiger was leaping through the air at someone before shooting it?

Meego's avatar

I can’t answer this properly, it’s confusing for me if my statement goes in circles or doesnt really make sense, I’m sorry.

First I’m mad. Second I don’t even live remotely close to there and not even in the same country.

I can say this, I’m mad that this was allowed to go on for years. Exotic or not every animal deserves to live a decent life although I do believe exotic wild animals have needs that cannot be fulfilled by us providing for them as much as most of us want to that is our instinct to nurture, that is not their instinct, with that said abuse on ANY animal should not be allowed and should of been stopped at the first sign!

We should really start monitoring more often like we do with restaurants when it comes to more than average number of animals in a household.

We can decide to take these animals in and give them restrictions but that is no different than locking an innocent person in jail with a death penalty with an insane warden. We should stop trying to makes animals our ‘slaves’
for the lack of a better term and let wild animals live in the wild.

I don’t know the answers. I just know that either way these animals that were killed didn’t have a life and apparently seeing as the Bengal tigers who are already endangered apparently were not supposed to make it and this made sure they didn’t, it was their time.

So really these exotic animals lives never really meant anything to anyone or they would of been left alone.

I also believe this is a sad tragedy, and hopefully things will change for animals in the future and the animals in death are honored because they werent in life.

rooeytoo's avatar

Thousands of dogs and cats are killed everyday because idiots don’t take care of their animals, have them desexed, throw them out when they are tired of them etc.

I don’t see much difference, it all makes me sad. I would hope most of all the cops were good shots and did the deed quickly. To me being exotic or endangered doesn’t make them more valuable than a mutt or kitten at the pound.

bluejay's avatar

They could have tranquilized them and brought them to other zoo’s.

SpatzieLover's avatar

No @bluejay tranquilizers don’t work that easily on large cats. First of all, they would’ve needed a heads up to know this was going to take place. Second, they’d have needed a lot of nets or cages and a lot of man power.

When you dart a wild animal, the animal runs. The sedation takes effect at some point. The animal sleeps. Then the animal awakens. The authorites would have lost all control once the animals went running. They would’ve needed to find the sedated or semi-sedated animals, then figured out a way to transport them. Again, they had zero warning.

bluejay's avatar

True I guess it was the best solution, but aren’t some of the species of animals endangered?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Sure. I don’t see what that matters when people could be hurt.

Meego's avatar

These arent rampaging dinosaurs. You could be just as hurt by a lynx while taking a nice stroll in a remote area. One word comes to mind..panic. If you see a lion you gonna go pet him?
What are the odds that those exotic animals would survive in captivity anyway?? Bengal tigers can adapt to almost any climate they just need shade, water and prey. But these tigers have been in captivity so they would of been in contact with humans and also unable to kill their own prey. So these parts I’m not sure about. There is also other factors like they haven’t been introduced to a climate of equality for them say in Africa they would have to fight for survival but in ohio i would guess they sort of have the upper hand so to speak.

Yes it is tragic that they are endangered, but really we aren’t as smart as we all think we are allowing a human to house dangerous animals is like going to the county jail and handing out loaded weapons to the prisoners. As I said before I’m conflicted.

YARNLADY's avatar

In an interview with Jack Hanna, wildlife expert, he called the experience tragic but justified.

wilma's avatar

One of the big cats, a tiger I think, had already eaten one of the monkeys. They were a threat to human life and domesticated animals.
It is a terrible thing that has happened, let’s hope that the laws are changed so that it won’t happen again.

DominicX's avatar

I have to agree with @SpatzieLover on this. Tranquilizing them would not have been feasible. What should have happened is that this nutcase shouldn’t have been allowed to have these animals in the first place, but that’s just Captain Hindsight’s viewpoint…

Either way, it was unfortunate, but it had to be done. Next time, maybe we won’t allow people to keep a menagerie like this especially when charges of animal cruelty had been brought up before…

ETpro's avatar

I take Jack Hanna at his word. Tranquilizer darts may be a fine option on an open savannah when you’re inside a vehicle for protection, but they were not an option in the wooded environs of Ohio. As he pointed out, they sometimes miss, sometimes go into bone and so don’t work, and take a highly variable amount of time depending on where they hit when they do work. Somebody would likely have gotten killed had they taken the time to try to tranqulize all those animals.

They ought to string up Ohio Governor Kasich for the fiasco. Former Governor Strickland had issued an executive order that would have shut this exotic animal farm down well in advance of the tragedy, but rather than let it go into law as it was scheduled, Kasich let it expire. Regulate nothing Republicanism again. Gubment bad.

Buttonstc's avatar

At the risk of repetition. Kasich is an idiot slave to political ideology.

He was a dimwit talking head when on TV and he’s a dimwit still.

They should make him bury those animals personally. Teach the nitwit a lesson.

Well, I can daydream, can’t I ?

tedd's avatar

I have a lot of friends (including my g/f) who basically work with Jack Hannah (zoo keepers at the Columbus Zoo, including one of his personal staff vets)... From what I’ve been told about him, my guess is….

There could have been more done to attempt to tranquilize the animals. By the time animal experts arrived, just over 40 of the animals had already been killed without any attempt to tranquilize them. That’s including around 20 who were still on the owners fenced in property.

When Zoo Keepers and animal experts from the Wilds animal reserve arrived the next morning, they did attempt to tranquilize several animals (including at least one tiger), but unfortunately they were only able to successfully tranquilize 6 of them.

Knowing Jack Hannah’s personality, he probably recognized that the police are not trained for this, and they made a quick decision with the best intentions/knowledge on hand. Unfortunately their decision was not the best decision, as they could have likely saved some of the animals if they’d attempted to tranquilize them.

In the end though, Hannah knows it was not the officer’s fault. They did the best they could in a bad situation. The blame falls primarily on the owner, and the ridiculously lax exotic animal laws in Ohio.

Buttonstc's avatar

And they are as lax in many other states as well.

The unfortunate thing about Ohio is that they were on the verge of tightening up some of those regulations and Kasich killed the legislation shortly after his election. Hopefully this incident will open people’s eyes and they’ll ditch this dummy after only one term.

ETpro's avatar

@tedd If the police had sat back and waited for animal experts with tranqulizer guns to show up, how many people would be condemning them today if numerous people including children had been attacked and killed by lions, tigers, bears and wolves running loose in a suburban neighborhood?

tedd's avatar

@ETpro Over 20 of the animals were contained on the owners property, and not leaving (not to mention they could have been contained by closing the gate to the property as it was fenced in). They were gunned down before any animal experts were even called.

Or if they had been intelligent enough to bring their own tranquilizer guns when going to investigate reports of multiple exotic animals on the loose near an animal preserve owned by a mentally unstable person with over 50 animals… they could have used those on the initial animals before nightfall.

Not to mention, the tigers, lions, and leopards were all completely out of their environment, and would be attempting mostly to not freeze to death rather than attack prey.

I’m not saying all the animal deaths were avoidable, and I’m not blaming the Sheriff for making a bad choice (it was a choice he should’ve never been given in the first place). But given the means at their disposal, we could be looking at 20–30 animals dead, rather than 49.

When animal experts were finally on the scene the following morning, they were able to tranquilize 3 leopards, large cats on par with tigers and lions. Unfortunately by that point most of the animals were already dead.

ETpro's avatar

@tedd You may be closer to the action. THe news reports I heard indicated that the actual outer fence had been breached, not just that a gate was left open.

tedd's avatar

@ETpro From what I’ve been told, the gate was merely opened, and the individual cages were possibly broken.

Regardless, the sheriff had tranquilizer guns and failed to bring them to the scene.

They didn’t even bring rifles, they took down the first 20 or so animals using their pistols. And no attempt was made to merely injure the animals (such as a leg shot or some other means of incapacitation). Shoot to kill was not necessary for those animals until they actually tried to escape the scene.

Buttonstc's avatar

The phrase comes to mind “Closing the barn door after the horse has escaped”

But at least it is now closed. At least the dimwit had enough sense of political self-preservation to do what he should have done BEFORE the deaths of 49 animals.

tedd's avatar

UPDATE: As I stated before, my girlfriend is a keeper at the Columbus Zoo and knows a lot of the staff who went to the scene. Unfortunately she suffered a bad Lemur bite over the weekend and had been out of work all week, until today. She was only able to talk briefly with a friend of hers (a Vet) who had been called to the scene in Zanesville, so sadly very little of what we’ve heard and talked about in this thread came up… But some interesting tid bits.

They described pulling up to the property (and I’m not sure if the was the Zoo staff when they arrived, or the initial police) like “going on safari” and that the animals were everywhere and becoming aggressive with one another and aggressive towards the cars.

Apparently the owner laid out a “ring of meat and food” and then shot himself in the middle of it, with the intention of the animals eating the meat and likely himself. He partially got his wish. One of the Lions apparently ate part of his head after dragging his body some distance (so thank god for that much, right?).

If I get any confirmation or what not of the various issues we’ve talked about here (effectiveness of tranquilizers, initial police reaction, fence/cage condition) I’ll be sure to post it (assuming it isn’t like “classified”).

ETpro's avatar

@Buttonstc Exactly what I was thinking.

@tedd Thanks. Please do update and more of the facts unfold.

chyna's avatar

@tedd Thank you for sharing. It always amazes me that people want to hurt others upon deciding on taking their own life.

Buttonstc's avatar


Of course it would have been preferable if Kasich had done it because it was the right thing to do (duh) rather than for political expediency, but that’s a politician for ya…... right ?


ETpro's avatar

@Buttonstc Fat chance of that.

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