Horror In Wild Ohio

Today’s story about exotic animals who were set free from a privately owned farm near Zanesville, Ohio and then had to be shot by Muskingum County sheriff’s deputies is horrific on many levels.

For those who aren’t familiar with this awful story, a man named Terry Thompson kept dozens of exotic animals on his farm near Zanesville — about 50 miles from here.  His stock included male and female lions, Bengal tigers, grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, wolves, and a baboon and a monkey.  Last night, Thompson apparently unlocked all of the animal pens, cut wires that restrained the animals, and then shot and killed himself.  The animals escaped into the surrounding area, terrorizing nearby neighborhoods, and had to be hunted down and killed by sheriff’s deputies.  It’s terrible that so many innocent, magnificent creatures had to be killed — but public safety had to take priority, and you don’t mess around with grizzlies or Bengal tigers.

Now that the danger has passed, it’s time to ask questions.  Ohio’s laws governing private ownership of exotic animals are apparently very liberal.  Why?  Even if allowing people to own or breed certain animals should be permitted under certain circumstances, isn’t it an obvious risk to public safety to have one man keep dozens of dangerous animals?  What was done to make sure that Thompson was qualified to serve as a proper caretaker and that the animals were being kept with appropriate security?   It’s mind-boggling to think that Thompson was allowed to keep more than 50 non-native, wild animals.  It’s even more mind-boggling that, under Ohio law, the only thing between those creatures and the people of the surrounding countryside was the rationality of one man who thought it was reasonable to keep more than 50 dangerous creatures on his property in the first place.

Cats Exposed As “Pretend Predators”

I have to admit it:  I don’t like cats.  We had one once.  It was a calico cat that Kish and the boys named “Baby,” which is an embarrassing name for any full-grown creature.  It pretty much ignored us when it wasn’t annoying us, and ran away when we moved to New Albany.  Good riddance!

So, I wasn’t really moved to tears when I saw this piece about cats disappearing in Lakewood, Colorado.  No one wants to see their neighbors’ pets ripped to bloody shreds by wild animals, of course.  (Although I confess seeing the finicky Morris get his just desserts wouldn’t trouble me.)  But I did take some satisfaction in the fact that the article really exposes cats as pretenders.  Often you hear about cats being such “natural hunters” because they occasionally bring home a mouse or a dead bird.  It’s a sham, of course, as this article demonstrates.  It turns out that cats not only can’t hold their own against animals like foxes and raccoons, these soft, tubby felines apparently are actually used as harmless training prey for the babies of foxes and raccoons.  How embarrassing for the haughty, untamed predators of the suburbs!

Of course, clueless, shambling dogs like Penny probably also would get creamed by the wild animals hunting the streets and backyards of Lakewood, but at least they don’t have have a ‘tude about it, or hold themselves out as anything other than a happy, panting, Iams munching, sleeping in the sunlight member of the family.