Zanesville, Ohio, Menagerie Massacre Was Tragic but Necessary

Jack HannaThe town of Zanesville, Ohio, has literally been a zoo since Tuesday evening, when 56 animals escaped a preserve. For hours, lions, tigers, bears, and other dangerous animals roamed the town, while citizens feared for their lives. Fortunately, police have managed to account for all of the animals, except one lone monkey who remains on the loose, and no human lives were lost in the process. That's the good news; the bad news is tragic.

In all, 49 animals were killed, according to CNN. That includes 18 tigers, 17 lions, 6 black bears, 2 grizzly bears, 3 mountain lions, 2 wolves, and a baboon. It's heartbreaking to think of those beautiful, powerful creatures being killed at human hands, but it was the only way.

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Police aren't to blame. Based on reports, they did what they needed to do in the interest of public safety, and I can only imagine how difficult it was for them. As Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, said in a press conference this afternoon, "Going home and saying to their kids they had to shoot a tiger, one of the rarest animals in the world, I wouldn't want to be one of these guys, having to tell my kids."

Here Hanna explains why tranquilizer guns weren't an option, and how police did the only thing they could do to protect the public.

It's terrible that police were put in this position. People should not be allowed to keep large, exotic animals as pets. There's no good purpose for it, and besides being cruel, it's just dangerous. And people like Terry Thompson, who seemingly committed suicide after opening the animals' cages, certainly should have never been allowed to run such a farm. He had served time in prison on weapons charges and had been convicted of animal cruelty and animals at large in 2005. Why didn't someone shut his place down long ago?

The whole thing is a horrible tragedy, but as badly as it ended, it could have been worse. Kudos to the town's police department for doing the difficult work. And hopefully the lives of these animals will not be lost in vain, but rather used to force immediate and drastic changes in the laws regarding exotic animals nationwide.

Do you think police did what they needed to do? Do you think people should be able to keep large, exotic animals as pets?


Image via YouTube

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