By now, you’ve heard about Terry Thompson, the man in Ohio who released the more than 50 exotic animals (including lions, tigers, bears, wolves and monkeys) on his property before committing suicide. It’s a tragic story all around, as 49 animals ended up dead, and Thompson’s widow is now working with police to bury their remains on her property.

But many people, including a handful of celebrities and animal-rights group PETA, believe that it’s a tragedy that could and should have been avoided.

Dancing with the StarsCarrie Ann Inaba tweeted, “So upset about what happened in OHIO!!! I think they could have tried a little harder to save the animals. It wasn’t their fault. :(” Celeb DJ Samantha Ronson chimed in with, “Did they really have to kill them?”

Despite the gravity of the situation, some celebrities reacted to the news a little more lightly, while still bringing attention to the issue. George Takei tweeted, “Lions and tigers and bears escape from an Ohio preserve. Oh Myyyy!” and E’s Joel McHale noted, “Monkey w/herpes still loose in Ohio. Q: How do they know? Did dead owner leave a note? ‘Monkey has herpes. Good luck!'”

The sheriff’s office has defended their actions, stating that the animals escaped at nightfall and it would have been impossible to track and tranquilize them before dark. The sheriff said that they were putting public safety above the animals’ welfare.

Animal expert Jack Hanna also sided with the police, publicly stating that, while trying to save the animals was important, the Ohio sheriffs did what they had to do. So far though, it seems as though most people disagree. Guitarist Slash voiced the opinion of a lot of people when he tweeted, “I get the situation, but there’s no way it was totally necessary to exterminate 49 loose exotic animals in Ohio.”

Of course, the real question is why Thompson was even allowed to have a menagerie of wild animals on his property in the first place. PETA released a statement about the situation, saying, “The shooting of dozens of exotic animals in Zanesville is a tragic example of just how wrong things can go when people are allowed to keep wild animals. PETA hopes that this will serve as a wake-up call to Ohio Governor John Kasich, who earlier this year refused to extend an emergency ban on exotic animals in the state that had been put in place by his predecessor.”

So, what do you think? Should the sheriff’s office have taken more time to try to tranquilize the animals? Or was public safety paramount and lethal force the best option?

via Eonline.


About China DeSpain

China DeSpain is a San Antonio-based writer and blogger. She loves pop culture, animal rights, health and fitness, international travel, books and wigs. Follow China on Twitter: @ChinaDeSpain

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  • SirWilliam Cat

    Such an unbelievable tragedy and scare that owner created! Humans need to do more to protect wild animals in the natural habitats where they rightfully belong. It’s not a good life for them to be in a cage or loose in a foreign environment.

    Only in rare cases is captivity defensible; for instance, when they have a very spacious environment similar to their own habitat in a progressive zoo to generate public awareness and support OR in govt.-approved breeding programs to help prevent the entire extinction of the species.

    – Sir William the Cat from the book “In Defense of Cats!” at

    • EGMunoz

      The whole point of those beautiful innocent animals being on the reservation was to “preserve” them and provide a save haven for them – not to kill them, duh!!

      • Winter

        It is a tragedy that these beautiful creatures had to be destroyed. However, place the blame where it belongs….with the owner. Law enforcement did what they had to do for public safety. If Jack Hanna said there was no other way, that’s good enough for me. If anyone could have saved the animals, he would have.

    • ip

      I think every effort should have been utilized to round up these animals rather than exterminate them. It appears other means were not even attempted.

      I am sickened and disgusted by this entire situation and all those involved!!!!!

      • Fred Fister

        I am from the area, and let me tell you they did the right thing. They attempted to tranquilize one of the went down for a few seconds then lunged at the officer. For his safety and others it was shot.

        The decision was made not to try anymore. It was nighttime and if the animals weren’t fully out there was a chance they would wonder off into the darkness and not be found…leaving them to wake back up and be on the loose in a populated area.

        It is a sad situation that the animals were let loose. It is something that we never want to see. But the officers did the right thing. And like someone said above…if Jack Hannah agreed, why go against his wisodom ?

  • leonardo

    what the hell is wrong with the humans now a days?
    what that man wanted releasing 50 animals (that aren’t natural to that region) and killing himself?


  • Anthony

    I live in Ohio and I cannot even explain how disgusted I am. Not only did our moron governor not continue this ban but he also supported the police’s actions by even tweeting saying they did a good job. They did a good job? They killed animals that shouldn’t even be here! Honestly, if it was at night and they obviously found the animals pretty quick. They could have tranquillized them and moved them back to wherever they were. No, cops are just lazy here and Kasich is a maniac who needs to be kicked out of office. So many people hate him in Ohio and e will not be winning the next election. This maniac needs to be stopped!

    • http://yahoo Carla

      You do not know the facts. They did try tranquilizing one tiger and the attempt was unsuccesful. The vet was nearly killed. There were only 4 tranqulizer guns avalible and 50 animals. Tranqulizing is an imperfect science. It takes time for the trank to work if it hits perfect. What you see on nature showes is one animal in a controled setting and edited for tv. It is not 50 escaped animals in a city with neighbors and night closing in. Yes this was an awful tragedy — it should have never have been allowed to come to this but the officers had no choice under the circumstances. The animals should have been protedted befoe this was allowed to happen. It should not have been a choice of animals or citizens neither of whome had a choice or a chance.

  • Olivia

    Change the laws – pure and simple. What qualifications did that man have to care for these animals? What conditions were they kept in? It’s an absolute abomination that they should be ashamed of. A perfect storm of reckless disaster. And at the centre of it, is the worst kind of cruelty – the death of of these animals. Sorry but I don’t have sympathy for the ‘townsfolk’ here …

  • Raquel

    Honestly, the fault does lie in the owner, who had his property for the preservation of these abandoned animals, to release them into the community before killing himself. If a zookeeper did the same thing in your neighborhood, would you be more concerned about saving the exotic animals over saving the lives of your family and neighbors? As it was stated, Jack Hanna says it was necessary since there was no way to safely tranquilize the animals at night. Should they have waited until daytime to capture the animals safely? There were no human fatalities from this tragedy which was extraordinary considering how many loose animals there were. As someone from Columbus, with friends who live in Zanesville, I am grateful for the fact that no human lives were lost and upset that the result was the destruction of the animals but satisfied that the officials handled it as best as they could.

  • michelle

    i dont get it .. They are such beautiful animals all of them.. I mean ohio sherriff should of called people and got these animals sadated and put them in cages and then figured out what to do with them.. I mean so quick to jump to guns…. violence.. these animals were killed for no good reason.. i mean tigers lions bears etc.. really people we couldnt take a minute to think this through.. some one should take the guns from these people since obviously they dont know what they are for. i think everyone should be prosecuted for animal cruelty and a type of homicide.. when the citizens heard the were let loose people could of stayed in until the zoos and peta got involved…. and took control… there is a reason were have department s for different things. Like police for criminals .. and ANIMAL CONTROL AND PETA for animals… they should be messing with something they know nothing about.. REALLY PEOPLE HAS THE WORLD REALLY BECOME THAT VIOLENCE AND GUN HAPPY????? take alook around we are going to have nothing left if we keep killing…. GET THEM PETA

    • http://yahoo Carla

      You can’t just call people and wait while 50 animals are escaping into town and onto other peoples property. These animals were not contained! If law enforcement had not taken care of it citezens would have. There are plenty of armed citizens in Ohio and they would not have stood by and let these animals threaten their families and animals. There would have been no doubt a greater tragedy with everyone shooting at everything that went bump in the night.

  • jaredstar

    To those who are saying that the cops were lazy let me ask you know what would you have done. Remember those lions tigers and bears are predators. The lions and tigers particularly forgetting for the moment that they couldn’t get the amount of tranqs needed the cops did what was right defending the truly important (humans) if any of the cops were are reading this I salute you

  • Roxy

    We don’t have the rights to any animal and as far as human safety goes- give it a rest. There’s too many of us and we’re pathetic! After this event any and all exotic animals should be abolished from this country. We do a piss pour job of taking care of anything. And, this goes out to the Ohio Sheriff and his men- When you do a good thing, you know you did one. There would be no question if the choices you made had been the right ones- They certainly weren’t smart ones. What a beautiful waste that we’re all responsible for.

  • cheryl

    I feel that something more should have been to save some of the animals. I agree that it was the owners fault for having all of these animals, and not being able to care for them properly. I did hear that they tried to tranquilize one of the cats and it went crazy, so I can understand the danger involved, and that it may have been necessary to kill some of them for the safety of people. But I think that it was a bit drastic and unnecessary to kill all of those beautiful animals without even trying to save any of them. 18 endangered tigers are now dead because of this. The picture is horrifying. I think that maybe they could have tried to trap some with food bait, or get the wife involved. If they bottle fed them since they were babies, how did they handle them as adult cats? They were used to living in captivity, so I feel that there would have been other alternatives to try first.

  • Angelo Havoc

    I am absolutely outraged at what happened in Ohio. I am a wildlife photographer specializing in exotic cats. I can track with the best of them and there are no excuses for these L.E.O.s to not have at least ONE PERSON or DOG in the whole town who cannot track an animal….I work with these beautiful creatures so much, there are many of them in which I am close to and love. With only 500 tigers left in the wild what constitutes a SLAYING as such as this? We humans are supposed to protect the animals….but the only thing humans want to do is destroy all that is good in this world. In the end we shall have nothing, we’ve killed the trees to create our concrete jungles; we’ve killed the wild mustangs that once roamed free, we’ve hunted certain species into extinction! I AM ASHAMED TO SAY THAT I AM HUMAN! More so I’m ashamed at our leaders who cannot lead.

  • herwin

    50 wild big animals on the loose and all slash most are able to kill people ? how do people ecpect that a local sheriff can catch all of them ? even to catch one of these big animals is such a major operation.
    the sherif did what he had to do, unfortunately.
    Anyway, its a lucky day for all the animals that served as food for all these carnivores. I mean, these prisoned animals were most probably fed with factory farming victims.

  • Ty

    While this was tragic for the animals if we move our passions aside and try to look at this from a human safety perspective there was nothing else that could have been done. No local law enforcement has the know how or equipment to instantly address the situation that was created by a lack of laws in the state of Ohio and Terry Thompson. I have much respect for Jack Hanna, who by the way for those that want to label him an accessory to murder remember this: those of us who claim to love animals haven’t done a fraction of what he has done for animals. If there was a way to instantly save those animals he would have known and acted upon it. That is why he was called for advice even before he arrived on the scene. If there is any good to come of this the state of Ohio will do what should have been done years ago and that is put laws in place that will protect those beautiful animals from irreponsible owners like Terry thompson.

  • TheNeoHippie

    I’m sick of the excuse ‘ for the publics safety ‘ it wasn’t in the city, and with todays modern technology it is impossible to miss the warning, people would stay indoors til the animals were captured and safe. These are exotic animals not criminals on the loose. They’re not going to try to break into homes, they are going to roam out in the country side. It’s such bs! Humans are not any more important then any other ANIMAL on this planet!

    • heather

      Look, they were in the city. tigers were even spotted in front of a walmart, and the animals roamed onto the property of the innocent. It’s very sad that all of this happened, but I am a native of zanesville. The situation could have been handled better; yes, almost everyone agrees with that statement, but the city officials did what they thought to be the safest thing for people and other animals of Zanesville. If you dislike this, then feel free to come to Zanesville and become a sheriff.

    • Ryan

      i agree. they mass murdered those animals.

  • Predator

    Killing 50 animals like this is unconscionable! There is no excuse! what kind of coward are these cops? Are you nuts in Ohio to let these dangerous parasites have weapons?

    You should eradicate them before they eradicate you!

    Who can kill one of these animals like that definitively will kill a human some day! You will remember what I just said next time these criminals cops kill another human in Ohio!

  • Whoever…

    “The sheriff’s office has defended their actions, stating that the animals escaped at nightfall and it would have been impossible to track and tranquilize them before dark.”

    People are so stupid!!
    Are you brain dead in America?
    You believe any bullshit ‘they’ tell you!!

    So, it was easy for them to track and shoot all the animals but it was impossible to tranquilize them!?
    Hello…!!! Instead of shooting them with real ammunition they could have used tranquilizers! Problem solved!!!

    “Animal expert Jack Hanna also sided with the police, publicly stating that, while trying to save the animals was important, the Ohio sheriffs did what they had to do.”

    Expert!??? Hahahaha… idiot!

    It’s the stupid people who believe such crap that should be put to death and not innocent animals!

    Humans are definitely the most pathetic species on this planet!
    No wonder we are all slaves of the ‘world elite’ (= the powers that be)…

  • Cris

    Agree with the Sheriff or Jack Hanna? You have to be kidding! I’ve heard all the pros and cons from Ohio. I’ve heard about guys piling in trucks and shooting like they were on a game preserve. They say that it was the only way to keep people safe. Bull!! Jack Hanna wasn’t gettinmg paid enough, I guess to do things the right way. The Sheriff is a cruel and unjust man who doesn’t deserve the job. He’s an idiot! All they would have had to do, is drug them, take them to the zoo or even back into their pens, making sure everything was locked down tight. Call any Wils Animal Sanctuary and the problem would have been solved. I live near one of the biggest Wild Animal Santuaries in the Northern Hemisphere. They would have been glad to take them if it meant keeping them safe and cared for or having them dead. This is a travesty of the worse kind and everyone in their right mind would know that.

    • heather

      Zanesville city officials did call Wild Animal Sanctuaries. In fact, they called two different ones, and both gave the city the same idea. I figured you should like to know this before you tried to defame someone.

  • michele capra

    I’m horrified over this. Why couldn’t police try tranquilizer first

    • heather

      Zanesville is a very small city, and the city officials were not equipped with what it takes to quickly and efficiently sedate over 50 exotic animals. It’s sad that the officials chose to shoot, but they fount it to be the safest decision for the public at the time.

    • http://yahoo Carla

      A vet did try to tranqualize a tiger. The tiger did not go down and came after the vet. There were only 4 trank guns and 50 animals. ummm Maybe even you can see the odds there. You should find out more about how tranqulizing large animals work before being so critical. It is not immediate it it works at all. There were 50 animals loose – not in a jungle but in a city with neighbors near by. There was not time or equipment to play around with trying to trank the animals while the were getting away in the city. It was nearly dark. This was not like rounding up domesticated dogs on the loose or ever horses or cattle. These were large wild animals. Law enforcement did what they had to do. You have a romanticized view of the world if you think other wise. It is a terrible tragedy. These animals should not be kept in situations like this. It is not our right to do this to them. But because some did and them let them out law enforcement had to protect the citizens of the community.

      • herwin

        i once saw a nature doc how a team of wildlife rangers tracked, tranquilized, and transported the big animal to another area.
        That took so much time and energy, for a whole team of qualified people, for just ONE animal.
        50 FIFTY !!! exotic big animals capable of killing or injuring people set loose. F-I-F-T-Y !!
        Not only track them and tranquilize them, but also transport them to suitable shelters.
        No way you can hold a hillbilly sherif responsible for this tragedy, he did what he had to do and that was to shoot them.
        And the REAL tragedy is that it is possible and legal to put exotic animals in cages !!!!
        And LBNL, i darn hope that all complainers are vegan !! If not, think about the senseless slaughter on your own plate !!

  • Joseph Oravec

    Celebs should talk their trash standing in OHIO! You fools are sitting in L.A. 3,000 miles away from the Danger Zone. Talk your Garbage when a Bear is on the prowl in your yard!

    Sorry, if it is a choice between a little kid becoming a snack for an Exotic Animal or Shooting the Animal, I say Rest in Peace Exotic Animal!

    And as Noted in many places, they tried to tranquilize the Animals but, they did not go down, and in fact became more aggressive after being shot with a dart.

    Meanwhile in L.A., those same Celebs spit on the Homeless that get in their way!

    • Emily

      People were told to stay inside. You’d have to be retarded to go outside after all the warnings. There was no reason for the police to do what they did.

  • Angelo Havoc

    Joesph just because some dumb a$$ fool tried to tranquilize a GRIZZLY BEAR without enough sedatives to knock out a beagle and failed, and bears are known for assertive behavior….but that is besides the point. Some of these animals were still lingering on the property…for a bunch of lying crooks who “can’t see enough at night to track them or tranquilize them” they sure SAW WELL ENOUGH TO KILL THEM….and do you know how many .9mm or .45cal rounds they probably needed to take out these INNOCENT ANIMALS! (and I say INNOCENT because they were just so, it’s humans who caused this, not their fault) because police officers DO NOT go around carrying high powered sniper rifles in their squad cars; some are lucky to even have a shotgun. So they tried ONE TIME to tranq a bear….they dosed the med wrong and that gave them the right to SLAUGHTER the rest of them? Wake up Joe and stop believing the P.T.B. (powers that be) they control the media. And it’s ignorant people that believe everything they hear or see. HUMANS ARE THE WORST ANIMALS ON THIS PLANET. And again if ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?

    Good night all

    General Havoc
    Signing off

    • http://yahoo Carla

      actually you are the fool. She was a vet from a nature preserve and was very much concerned with saving the animals and she tranq a tiger and it still came after her. So get your facts strsight before you blow off. The sheriff contacted several animal authorities to try to prevent the tragedy. Terry Thompsom is to blame and the laws that allow people to own thes animals.

  • Jms

    Unbelievable, noexcuses. The leadership in zanesville is uncapable and being paid to do a job they are uncapable of doing.
    This is a clear case of shoot first ask questions later. This is just the beginning where does it stop. This was less horrific than a tornato watch which these citizens are well versed in.
    Having been on both sides of this situation it’s obvious that this was blood lust, there was no critical thinking involved in the decision. Hence, the outcome. Admit it Zanesville you messed the bed.

    • Brandy Smith

      EXACTLY!!!!!!!!! BLOOD LUST! I wouldn’t visit Zanesville in my life after hearing this story!

  • Emily

    It was unnecessary and absolutely monstrous. If anyone there is protesting, I’m ready to join.

  • Angelo Havoc

    Heather, for one I spent long enough as a police officer in the Marine Corps handling TRACKING K-9’s….but thanks I appreciate your vote for sheriff :)…..I am very organized because it was instilled into my mind by military training. So for me to see so much chaos and disorder in a sheriffs/police department and disorganized and unplanned and not executed within reasonable guidelines is hard to gather that not everyone has a mind that can think of a 360degree safety
    strategy both for animals and civilians. Thanks for pointing out my fault. Sad thing is my cousin has a LEGAL big cat sanctuary and she just happened to be in Cincinnati at the zoo and nobody called her at all and she would have been glad to help. She is just as pissed as other people. I now work freelance one on one photographing animals like the ones massacred and over time create bonds with animals much bigger than myself. I sit in the cats pens with them and photograph them. Call me crazy but to be so close and put my trust in them is worth the perfect shots that I’ve got and the love they’ve given me is so amazing if you ever felt it you would be just as outraged at this situation. So I apologize for hurting anyone’s feelings.

    General A. Havoc
    Signing off

  • Mai

    Fate of Zannesville’s animals fate sealed July 2004.

    Archived transcript predicts what would be the fate of the animals of Zannesville courtesy of Jack Hanna. “Florida Wildlife Officers shoot and kill Tarzan’s run- away tiger. The tiger’s owner, Steven Sipek who played Tarzan on screen, calls it murder. He’ll join us along with Jack Hanna, the world renowned animal expert Jack Hanna. Both next on LARRY KING LIVE”. To read the Transcript Log on to:

  • Brandy Smith

    I’m listening to the story now and and the shooters got OFF on that killing spree….going into great detail how they killed these poor animals. BASTARDS.

  • Joe

    Did you fools miss the part where the guy was crying over shooting those animals. It was not blood lust. If they hadn’t acted quickly and waitedfior enough trank guns to show up there would still be dangerous animals running around that town. One of the animals was hit by a car. How many people could have been killed had those animals been allowed to run out on the road? Luckily we’ll never know. If they hadn’t killed those animals and people would have been killed as a result you people would be angry about that. if i lived in zanesville i wouldn’t want you to visit because you clearly would rather have seen the people of the town die rather than shoot a dangerous animal. The police of that town did an outstanding job. If jack Hannah can back them on their decision then there must have been no other option. If anyone should be in question over this it should be the idiots responsible for not outlawing the hoarding of exotic animals.

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