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 Stars‘ Carrie 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?