Lions, tigers, bears, oh my: stricter laws needed

IUS Horizon

Wild animals are exactly that — wild. They should not be kept as pets in someone’s backyard.

Recently, exotic wildlife were released into the city of Zanesville, Ohio, by Terry Thompson, who committed suicide soon after.

Thompson was the owner of Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville. He had several previous run-ins with the law, including a weapons charge and charges of animal cruelty.

In addition to a criminal record, Thompson’s wife had just left him, and some sources say he had financial problems when it came to caring for the animals. So, obviously, this man was not mentally or financially stable enough to have the wild animals.

The local police department killed all but seven animals. Six of the animals were taken to a local zoo and one monkey, which was said to be carrying Hepatitis B, was never found.

Ohio’s Flawed Law System

This should be a red flag to every state which allows civilians to house exotic animals.

Ohio is known for having weak government sanctions when it comes to permits and laws on having exotic animals as pets.

The exotic animal’s laws in Ohio as of April 2011 state that no person may bring a non-domesticated animal into the state; unless, the possessor obtains an entry permit, health certificate and a certificate of veterinary inspection.

The people already in the state possessing non-domestic animals do not need to obtain a permit.

Bengal Tiger

Ohio is in the category of NB, based on their wildlife laws.

The N means a ban on private ownership of exotic animals. The B means that the owner does not have to obtain a license or permit to possess a wild animal in the state, but there may be regulations on entry permits or veterinary certificates.

The ban on having private ownership of non-domestic exotic animals was originally enacted by Ted Strickland, former Ohio governor in January 2011.

Then, the current governor, John Kasich, let the ban expire. Good job Kasich.
Now, Kasich has ordered several state agencies to crack down on abusive owners and unsafe conditions for exotic animals. He wants to revisit Strickland’s orders.

Instead of letting the order expire, he should have left it active while looking for alternatives.

Jack Hanna, zookeeper, along with Kasich, are going to implement new laws within the next six months banning all auctions of exotic wildlife in Ohio.

Then, three months after that, they are hoping to tighten the guidelines and laws of current exotic animal owners to make sure they are up to par on fencing, cages and land.

Perhaps stricter criminal and mental screening laws would also be a good idea.

Wildlife Conservation

What bothers me is some of these animals are on the endangered species list, such as the Bengal Tiger.

There are fewer than 2,000 Bengal Tigers left on this planet. This number just decreased further because one crazy man decided to release them, and the police had no choice but shoot to kill.

Thompson claimed his farm was for preservation. He failed to prove that claim.

Solution

An easy solution to this problem would be to ban having these exotic animals as pets.

Yes, I know when we are younger, we see a baby lion or monkey and think, “Aww, how cute, I want one.”

It doesn’t matter how cute and cuddly these animals appear, they are natural predators and they belong in the wild or in a zoo.

There are so many organizations that help to protect these animals including the World Wildlife Foundation, WWF, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA — neither one of these organizations support keeping wild animals as pets. Wild animals that are injured or orphaned should be cared for by licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

I am an animal lover, and it bothers me that we as humans let our own stupidity get in the way of doing what is right. Leave the wildlife in their natural habitats or let trained professionals at a zoo take care of them.

By JOLIE STONE

Sports Editor

stonejl@umail.iu.edu