Thursday, October 20, 2011

He called himself an animal lover

Thompson with his Percheron horses in 2008. (Tony Dejak/AP) Investigators walk around a barn as carcasses lay on the ground at the Thompson Animal Farm. (Chris Crook/AP)

Marital problems, a tax lien on his property, time spent in prison ―we may never know exactly why Terry Thompson went into meltdown mode and set 56 wild animals free just before killing himself at his exotic animal farm in Zanesville, Ohio on Tuesday, October 18th. But we do know this ― he didn't just take himself out ― he sentenced most of them to a violent death as well. Local and state authorities hunted down and shot and killed 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions as well as wolves, grizzly bears, and other animals that Thompson had acquired for his "collection" of exotic animals. Read the entire story here.

Animal experts said that the hours leading up to the deaths of these wild animals were filled with terror and panic as they wandered loose with no understanding of what had happened to them. They had likely also suffered as part of Thompson's collection, which he began assembling in 1977. Over the years, numerous complaints from neighbors and animal lovers were made against Thompson, and in 2005 he was convicted of animal cruelty.

The only good that can come from this tragedy is the enaction of strong legislation to ban private ownership of wild animals for most ordinary citizens. Only those actively engaged in conservation efforts and in collaboration with animal advocacy groups should be allowed to become stewards of these magnificent and powerful animals. I totally agree with what Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, has to say about this issue. To read his blog click here.

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