Authorities shot nearly 50 big animals -- including 18 Bengal tigers and 17 lions -- this week after a farm owner in Ohio let loose his large animals and then killed himself. Terry Thompson, the owner, had just completed a jail sentence for possessing illegal firearms, had a history of abusing animals, and had vast debt over unpaid taxes. Most people agree that killing the animals was "unavoidable" once they got free. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on Friday that he would is advocating for a moratorium on exotic animal auctions. The story made waves around the internet, leading many commentators to consider the lessons from the incident. Here are a select few:
This should never have happened: "States should have strict regulations to govern the private ownership of wild animals that have the ability to seriously harm people. Few individuals -- even those who are not as troubled as Thompson -- have the training or the resources to care for wild, dangerous animals," says a Los Angeles Times editorial. "If Ohio chooses not to go the route of the 21 states that ban the private possession of most wild animals, it should at least set strong new restrictions about who can be an owner and what rules they must abide by."
Thompson was the exception: "What Thompson did was selfish and insane; we cannot regulate insanity," says Zuzana Kukol at USA Today. But many other Americans care well for their exotic pets. "If we have the freedom to choose what car to buy, where to live, or what domestic animal to have, why shouldn't we have the same freedom to choose what species of wild or exotic animal to own and to love?" Cutting down on exotic animals because of "a few deranged individuals" would be like trying to "ban kids" in hopes of curbing child abuse.
Is it an American thing? "There seems now to be quite a sizable number of people in America who would sooner put human lives at risk than cause a wild animal to die," says Alexander Chancellor in Britain's The Guardian. "There are more tigers in captivity in the US than there are in the wild worldwide -- 5,000 against 3,200. And a tiger cub doesn't come for less than $700. But at least their owners won't be sentimental about them. They are mostly macho gun enthusiasts, the American equivalent of Britons with pit bull terriers."