THE BLOG
10/25/2011 01:01 pm ET Updated Dec 25, 2011

Animal Massacre in Ohio: The Horrible Fate of the "Zanesville 49"

By now many of you know about an incredibly bizarre incident involving animals who ran rampant after being released from a private animal reserve near Zanesville, Ohio after one of the owners of the reserve released them and then apparently shot himself. I first heard about it early in the morning soon after it happened and I've had numerous emails about this situation, all of which have expressed concern about the fact that 49 of the animals were killed, most of them within 1500 feet of their pens, six tranquilized, and one hit by a car. One monkey is still missing.

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Ohio is one of about eight states that does not regulate exotic animals. While it's interesting to ponder why numerous exotic animals -- wolves, monkeys, Bengal tigers, bears, leopards -- were allowed to be kept on the reserve and why the laws regulating these sorts of situations are nonexistent or pretty weak and the few existing standards rarely enforced, it's also important to know why so many were routinely killed and only a few tranquilized. Why weren't more or all tranquilized? If they could be shot with a bullet why couldn't they be shot with a tranquilzing dart? And, while these animals roamed around the farmlands in and around Zanesville, there were no reports of any attacks on humans. Indeed, most of the animals didn't leave the general area of what had been their home. Many might have been as scared as some of the local humans.

It's too late to bring these animals back and give them the life they deserved. And little is to be gained by blaming the authorities although an inquiry into this mass slaughter should surely be conducted. But one thing that can and must be done is to implement regulations and laws about the keeping of exotic animals, strengthen the ones that currrenly exist, enforce them vigorously, and make it impossible for people to keep these magnificent beings on unregulated reserves or in their homes. The property status of animals must also be changed because right now these and other animals are merely objects in the eyes of the law, similar to backpacks, bicycles, and couches. There's really little we can't do to them that isn't "legal."

Please light a candle for these innocent victims of wide-ranging abuse. Let's always remember the "Zanesville 49." They didn't deserve to die.

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Please write local and national authorities and politicians and get the ball rolling. This was surely a preventable tragedy and keeping exotics like these is an accident waiting to happen. You can also sign a petition to ban the sale, harboring, and ownership of exotic animals in Ohio.