by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals.
Photo: Furryscaly

Chaos led to tragedy yesterday after the owner of an animal farm opened up the cages and released exotic creatures like tigers, bears and monkeys into the community. The owner of the farm, Terry Thompson, then committed suicide.

Residents were told to stay inside and schools closed for the day while the police searched for the animals. Tragically, 49 animals were shot dead including 18 Bengal tigers and 17 lions while only one grizzly bear, two monkeys and three leopards were captured alive. One monkey was found dead and was assumed to have been eaten.

Police defended their decision to kill rather than capture most of the animals because officers are not equipped with tranquilizer guns and nightfall was approaching.

Sherrif Matt Lutz said, “If this had been a 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock incident, in the middle of the day, odds are high that we may have been able to surround the area and keep everything contained. But our biggest problem that we had was nightfall. We had about an hour, hour and a half of light, and we just couldn’t take the chance.”

Conservationist Jack Hanna arrived later to try and save some of the animals by shooting them with tranquilizers. However, the tranquilizers take a few minutes to go into effect. One tiger still had to be killed after being drugged when he turned aggressively on a veterinarian.

Terry Thompson, the now deceased owner of the farm, had a long history of animal cruelty and instability. He had even threatened to let his animals go after getting visits from investigators who were responding to reports of neglect and cruelty.

CNN has chronicled his long history of  abuse and run ins with the law over his animals. It’s just so sad that no one was able to close him down before such a tragedy took place. The animals did nothing wrong, and yet paid the price for his behavior.

Terry Thompson should not have been allowed to have possession of these creatures, especially after showing over and over that he was unfit to care for them. We hope this event will spur legislation limiting who can provide a home for such dangerous animals.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at aliberman.com. In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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  • georgina0912

    Yeahh…blame it on the exotic pet trade!

  • stldustin

    I’ll tell you who can provide a good home for such animals…MOTHER FUCKIN NATURE.

  • Erin

    Animals are so unimportant to us. It makes me sick that we have the ability to “chronicle” Terry Thompson’s abuse of these animals but yet nothing was done about it?! This is ridiculous.

  • Marina

    I am truly sickened by this senseless slaughter.As always it seems animals pay the price for peoples stupidity. For experts to say that they did it in the name of peoples safety is a total joke . People could have been told to stay inside until these animals were tranquilizer and captured . Instead they were slaughtered and now these same clowns are saying it was necessary . Nobody believes your pathetic excuses.I say the sheriff should be made to resign and Jack Hanna the biggest clown of all should stop trying to pretend he gives a shit . Pretends to love animals and then the hypocrit defends the actions to have these animals killed.Thanks for nothing idiot

  • http://Yahoo Frank

    Really , do you know how many miles a tiger / lion can travel through the night under the cover of darkness? The next morning the animals could be 40-70 miles away. Your little dog is outside or worse, neighborhood kids are outside and the worst happens. Now that PATHETIC SHERRIF has to answer questions on why people were killed by a lion or tiger that was allowed to roam free! The SHERRIF did his duty he protected the people in his county.