Schools have been closed and residents have been urged to stay home in Zanesville, Ohio Wednesday because there are wild, exotic animals on the loose. After the fence on a private, exotic game preserve was left open Tuesday, most of the 48 animals ... escaped. Neighbors of the park called the cops when they looked out their window and saw lions, tigers, and bears (oh my) wandering down the street, acting as if they owned the place. The Zanesville's Sheriff says the curious animals are "very big, mature, and aggressive" and has sent police armed with assault rifles to survey the area.
Wall Street is the least of our worries now. The animals have occupied Zanesville.
It gets even weirder. When police arrived at the preserve, they found the owner of the property lying dead, surrounded by some of his inquisitive beasts who, by the way, haven't been fed since Monday. As of now, over 30 of the curious animals have been shot and killed by the police who are trying to contain what officials are calling a "bad situation" that's only getting worse.
Besides the lions and bears, there are also cheetahs, giraffes, tigers, wolves, and camels on the loose. Evidently, Ohio has very lenient exotic pet laws (and has the highest incidents of death caused by them), but that might change after this fiasco. There are hungry animals who can eat people roaming the Zanesville streets for crying out loud. The small town 55 miles outside of Columbus has been turned into a wild game park as police in pickup trucks with rifles are riding around looking for the escaped animals.
So far there haven't been any (human) injuries, but the death toll of the animals is obviously very high. The Sheriff's department has been put between a rock and a hard place here -- protect the people or protect the animals -- but they shouldn't have found themselves in this situation to begin with.
These magnificent creatures don't belong in someone's yard in Ohio. It's absurd that a man on a 40-acre plot of land was allowed to keep them as pets. And because he was, the town's people are vulnerable to an animal attack like a backpacker alone in the wilds of South Africa, and the animals are in danger, too. The price of keeping wild and exotic pets is too high for everyone involved.
Do you think people should be allowed to keep lions, bears, cheetahs, giraffes, wolves, chimps, and camels as pets?
Photo via Oli-Olivan/Flickr