photo by Tambako the Jaguar (Flickr CC)

On Tuesday night an exotic wild animal collector let loose 56 animals in Muskingum county, Ohio, a rural area of the United States. The collector, who has been identified as Terry Thompson, owner of Muskingum County Animal Farm, then killed himself.

The drama that followed the animals release boiled down to police hunting down and killing the animals, including tigers and lions, for fear that they would attack people.

From the Guardian:

Animal bodies were seen scattered near a barn on the game preserve, and they were later buried there […] The preserve also had cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels and grizzly bears, among others.

Conservationist/celebrity wildlife expert Jack Hanna believes deadly force was necessary to deal with the situation and that tranquillizer darts would not have been an adequate safety measure when so many dangerous animals were on the loose at once.

From CNN:

As of Wednesday afternoon, authorities had killed 49 animals — 18 tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, two grizzly bears, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon. Those captured alive were taken to the Columbus Zoo.

The appropriateness of the emergency measures can be debated, but the fact that people can buy and sell exotic wild animals to profit or feed their own vanity is something that should be closely examined. This is not just the root of this particular incident, but also of a cruel and ignorant worldwide trade in wild animals, which are then used as tacky living trophies or as ingredients in bogus traditional medicines.

It is a shocking and often repeated statistic that there are more captive tigers in the US state of Texas than there are wild tigers in the entire world.

There is also a growing trade in baby gorillas, probably fuelled by rich idiots who want a cute and rare pet.

Ban the trade in wild, exotic animals and punish those who participate in it. Yes, keeping lions, tigers and bears is potentially dangerous to humans, but it is undeniably dangerous to the animals themselves, as this one instance in Ohio, resulting in 49 dead, innocent animals clearly demonstrates.

About The Author: Graham Land

Greenfudge editor and London-based writer Graham Land grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where he was part of the local hardcore punk scene, playing in several bands. Through this musical movement he became involved in grass roots interests such as anti-racist activism, animal rights and Ecology. In 2000 he relocated to Europe, eventually earning an MA from Malmö University in Sweden. He has also lived in Japan, Ireland, Portugal and Greece.


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