Many of us read this week about the tragic deaths of 49 exotic animals in Zanesville, Ohio. While 6 of the animals survived and are now being cared for at the Columbus Zoo, it raises the long-standing issue of people possessing exotic animals. And while the debate continues in Ohio and nationally about strengthening laws to prohibit private ownership of exotic animals, I am plagued by a different issue: How was one person able to collect and possess this large number of exotic animals?

It must have been terrifying for the Zanesville community to learn that over 50 exotic animals were on the loose; and it must have been terrifying for those animals to be set loose into an unfamiliar world. While experts have said that it was impossible to safely round up the animals during nighttime, it is heartbreaking to know that these beautiful creatures lost their life. However, it brings us right back to the beginning of why a person was allowed to possess over 50 exotic animals.

We may never know why this individual set the animals loose and then killed himself. All we can do is mourn the death of these amazing animals and support the process of strengthening laws to prevent the possession of exotic animals.  If you are curious to know what your state laws is regarding the possession of exotic animals, check out Born Free USA’s webpage.

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