Overheard on CNN.com: Disgust over animal killings
After exotic animals were released from their cages, authorities in Eastern Ohio had to respond to a dangerous situation.
October 19th, 2011
12:42 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Disgust over animal killings

Comment of the morning:

“Terribly sad in every way. I'm trying to convince myself these magnificent animals are maybe better off than new lives in different cages. Very upsetting.” - StaciBinore

Eastern Ohio reacts to loose, dangerous animals

Officials say Terry Thompson, 62, released nearly 50 exotic animals from his preserve in Ohio — including lions and bears — before dying from a self-inflicted wound. Most of the escaped animals were put down, and authorities are still looking for the few that haven’t been accounted for.

The story shocked and upset many CNN.com readers who wanted to know why the animals hadn’t been tranquilized rather than shot. Others wanted to know how Thompson, who had recently been released from prison for possessing illegal firearms, had been allowed to own so many exotic animals.

intheaspens said, “How sad that the animals have to suffer because of one stupid human.”

reticular responded, “It isn't because of just one stupid human; this guy wouldn't have been able to do this in most other states. The Ohio legislature deserves most of the blame for this. They've condoned this kind of stupidity for decades.”

kscanuck called it “A perfect example of why private ownership of these type of wild animals should be illegal everywhere. They are not pets. What a sad situation.”

Mother73 said, “So nobody is prepared to trap them or sedate them? Let's just run out and kill some unruly camels! Sheesh. And people say Texas is backwards.”

DarkStarWNY responded, “Let's set a lion loose next to your house and then you can talk about trapping it rather then killing it.”

MadCityBabe said, “It's a terrible shame that some of these animals are put down simply because they were caged at one point and then set free; they are only following their natural instincts. Wild/exotic animals should NEVER be caged or kept as pets. It serves no purpose and is unfair to the creatures. SHAME!”

Templars83 responded, “Agreed. This is awful and there apparently is not an Ohio Wildlife and Preservation department that actually functions.”

C0yolxauhqui said, “ 'Exotic Animal Farms' like this should not be permitted. It amounts to animal cruelty and poses serious threats to public safety, obviously. I can't believe places like this even exist in the United States.

Ghsty9 responded, “Same goes for zoos.”

joe0339 said, “For all you people who say ‘why shoot them and not tranquilize them?’ Obviously you do not live in Muskingham County and do not have children. Put yourself in that situation before you go ‘PETA’ on somebody.”

kstr13 asked, “What happens when they kill an endangered animal like the white tiger? Is there no punishment that comes out of that? They’re almost extinct; the Columbus Zoo got fined a huge amount for accidently killing a Giraffe and a Tiger. Does this action not deserve any punishment? In my opinion it does!”

MoeHammit responded, “Read the article. HUMAN safety comes first regardless of the status of the animal.”

DarkenedDan said, “Bengal Tigers are an endangered species, so wouldn't killing one be a federal or international crime? Just curious.”

ChuckSand said, “Here's the deal tree huggers. These animals are all large predators that in their natural environment kill things much bigger than humans. Lions and tigers weigh 400lbs, Grizzlies weigh 900lbs and wolves hunt in packs. So how do you control these animals before they kill someone? Well a tranquilizer dart is accurate to about 40yds, a rifle is accurate to well over 300 yds. Who wants to get within 40yds of one of these animals, much less in the dark? Get real. If someone was killed, I know you would be the same person whining that the public officials weren’t doing enough to protect the public.”

blueparadise said, “All of you people moaning about 'innocent animals being killed' probably just finished wolfing down a Bacon Egg and Cheese McMuffin. You probably don't think twice about all the animals you eat throughout the day.”

Rizengrom responded, “Do you know the difference between consumption products and exotic animals/endangered species? You don't go to jail or get fined for killing or eating chicken!”

Do your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (264 Responses)
  1. Animals Need A Voice

    I understand shooting some animals maybe 5 tops, but 49 animals - 18 tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, two grizzly bears, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon. I live in Sierra Mountains we have bear alerts all the time, but we watch out for them and do our part in helping put them out of harms way. This is a slaughter of animals and there is no way of ever justifying it.

    October 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • denise tutwiler

      All of the animals are killed? It doesn't make sense. Are they really that ignorant there? I am shocked!!

      October 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      denise tutwiler,
      Your statement 'are they really that ignorant there' is offensive. I grew up in Southeast Ohio, have a Master's Degree, and am a professional conservationist. The authorities made the only realistic decision they could have made in that situation. I'm sure that if you were there in the dark, rain facing a tiger or lion, you would have lured it back to the safety of its cage with pretty whispers and a doggy treat.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • liz

      I agree. Those police officers had night vision, they could have used tranquilizer guns. I can see killing one dangerous animal, but the carnage they wreaked is inexcusable. They knew this owner was in their community, they could have anticipated something would eventually go wrong. Sounds like there's alot of trigger-happy hicks on the force that couldn't figure out these animals were just scared. Plus a carekeeper assistant said they had been fed in the morning. What did these guys think, the animals were prowling for a human meal. Inexcusable. I hope they're not that trigger happy with the human population there. I think I'll stay away from that part of the state. I hope their consciences don't give them any peace of mind. Idiots!

      October 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reesiecup

      I totally agree with you. No justification whatsoever for the murder of these animals.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disgusted

      WHAT were those people thinking???? Why didn't they tranquilize and relocate these poor animals?? I am disgusted and outraged by this situation. Those poor animals didn't deserve to die because of their troubled owner's action...

      October 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I am sadded that the animals had to be shot, but the officers had no choice. They had no time to get together the resources to tranq them. It was either let them run and possibly kill people or shot them. This whole situation is Gov. Kasich's fault. Ohio did have a law preventing people for owning exotic animals but he let it expire. Had he renewed it, these animals would have probally been safe and sound somewhere else because that man would not of had them. So in my opinion people should be flooding the governors office with your complaints.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ellespot

      there is no justification for these killings. the authorities knew this private zoo existed and the government allowed it to exist therefore the authorities should have been properly trained and prepared with tranqs etc in case of just this kind of emergency. They were not prepared and publically claim they had no idea this man had so many animals. Even after there had already been a bear mauling and an escaped lion in the past.and continuing to discuss the killings as an event that occurred in the dark of night means two things. one, children and citizens would have had enough notice via local news outlets about what was going on and two due to said notice could have used common sense to stay inside. How long did it take to track down and kill 49 animals? Long enough to have fish and game get there with the required drugs to tranq these animals? I think so. I also think the real reason they were shot is the costs that would be incurred having to house and care for and relocate these animals to already over crowded rescues. This was about number crunching not human safety. And since the local and state governments allow this kind of ownership without apparently any proper supervision of these owners I feel they are responsible for ensuring not only human safety but the safety of these animals. its not about humans first or animals first its about respect for all living creatures.

      October 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott Sanders

      Every one of those officials who shot those animals dead should be fired and lose their precious benefits.
      What a senseless horrible tragedy.
      We're SUPPOSED to be the stewards of the Earth, instead, we're ruining it and eventually the Earth will exact her toll and WE'LL be the endangered species...with any luck.

      October 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard

    Before a state issues permits for private owners to keep exotic animals, they should ensure that they have the training and resources to address these situations with methods other than slaughter. Ohio state government should bow its head in shame. They are responsible for the massacre of some of God's most wonderful creatures.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh

      best comment on the post bravo

      October 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Justice

    This story makes me wanna become some sort of animal activist. This is all humans fault . They killed extinct animals and the truth is they wont be punished for it when do cops ever even get punishment for what they do?! Im telling you there's not much justice in this society these days. We're living in the jungle and the people are the animals

    October 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Pretty sure it would be impossible to kill 'extinct' animals.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh

      i agree with brandon.... or was there a dodo bird in the mix

      October 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brandon

    As a wildlife conservationist I have immobilized hundreds of 'exotic' animals- questioning whether the animals could have been tranquilized is one of ignorance. Even a team of professionals would not be able to (or attempt to) immobilize, secure, and reverse an unknown number of dangerous animals in an uncontrolled situation in the dark. The Muskingum county sheriff made the decision that saved human lives. Be angry with the lack of laws governing exotic animals in Ohio.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Taryn Kay

    Seriously – – all the humans could think to do is kill the animals? Do they really expect us to believe they attempted to tranquilize them all? Whatever. Sounds more like a bunch of testosterone filled men with guns went on a hunting expedition. It makes me sick. Disgusting, pathetic statement on the nature of our gun culture.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh

      it is not the gun culture.... that is the federal gov that kills for fun

      October 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RUFFNUTT (kcmo resident and smoker of fine purple kush)

    COPS ALWAYS LOVE TO SHOOT MINORITIES... including endangered species...

    October 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • liz

      good one, ruffnutt–it would be funny if it wasn't so damn sad what happened to these poor animals. They didn't have a chance. What a slaughter.

      October 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Katless

    Once again American people prove how dumb and careless we have become. Right now it's the exotic animals that have to be recklessly slaughtered which will only help lead to total extinction. What we are too stupid to realize is that one day people will end up being slaughtered and extinct because of total idiots like the dude who held these animals in captivity. Freedom comes with a big price. Where is legislature ?

    October 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    wow, I am honestly surprised by the number of people angry over what happened to the animals, in reality it was the best possible outcome. There were some 56 exotic animals on the loose, lets assume the local law enforcement wanted to sedate them and capture them, I highly doubt they had enough tranquilizers on hand for all these animals. If they had waited to have enough tranquilizers the animals would have run into the wilderness and would have become extremely hard/impossible to find, until they come back to attack innocent people, because you know lions are known for just hiding and not attacking things. And lions and most tigers are not extinct, the Bengal tiger is, but if you actually read the article you'll see that they shot the Bengal tiger with a tranquilizer and it kept coming at the police, there is really only one other option at that point. The police's responsibility is to protect and serve...HUMANS! They did what they thought was best, and in reality it probably was, imagine a lion in your backyard, are you going to worry about its safety or yours and your neighbors. Obviously this man should never had been allowed to own these exotic animals, especially extinct ones, but that's not the police's fault, its the legislature, blame them, not the officers, who were only doing their jobs.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • liz

      If I saw a lion in my yard I would go in the house and stay there and call the authorities, but I would not tell them where the animal was unless I knew they could tranquilize the creature. Now that I know how trigger-happy most cops are, I wouldn't report it at all. Let it be on someone else's conscience. I don't believe these officials didn't know about this owner and the potential problems this guy could cause. I'll bet a cookie they know more about the situation than they're letting on. Why is it these "officials" can't see the bigger picture. Didn't they realize what a PR nightmare they would stir up with this carnage.They needed patience and they could have waited for more expert help to arrive. And how many people were in immediate danger. P- Poor decisionmaking. No excuses. None.

      October 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Audrey

    This is horrifying! Leave it up to the human race to kill, kill, kill. I'm disgusted by this!

    October 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reesiecup

      I'm totally disgusted by this as well. There is no justification whatsoever for the murder all these beautiful animals. Indeed, it is horrifying !!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mary Sireci

    CNN- I am so disappointed in your sensationalizing coverage of the animals. You mention that the images of all the dead animals would be disturbing, but as I reached for the remote that was on my lap you showed the graphic images. I am disgusted that you took this sad story and imprinted the image on unsuspecting people. The story was enough. Give us a chance to change the channel to avoid the relentless horror. I hope your station enjoys the ratings, but you have lost me and I will not go back. I am very unimpressed. CNN has joined the ranks in insensitivity in news coverage.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Katless

    There are only two places for these types of animals, one being a place they call a Zoo and the other place is the wild so the animal has a chance to roam free and hunt for food the usual way. If man has interest in seeing these creatures either let him or her go to the zoo, take some kind of expensive safari trip or watch the animal on TV. Owning one of these animals privately should be banned in ALL states in my opinion. This is a perfect example of freedom at a cost but the animal keeps paying the price.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lauren

    This is disgusting!!!!! All they had to do was transfer the animals to a wildlife protection place, not shoot them dead!!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dgrl99

    Some of you people are just ignorant. I'm an animal lover, I could never harm one, but if I walk outside and there's a tiger staring at me and someone was going to shoot it, I don't think I'd stop them! Would you give your life or another human's to save an animal's life??

    October 19, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      We don't know exactly where each and every one of these animals were killed, so any hypothetical situation with a tiger about to pounce on a human being isn't necessarily relevant. The situation with the Bengal was deemed necessary after the tranquilizer failed to subdue the tiger. The question we have to ask ourselves, "Is it likely that ALL the animals that were killed posed an immediate threat to human life before their demise?" Personally, I highly doubt it. It's such shame that these animals had to lose their life this way.

      October 19, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ellespot

      were there any reports of these animals on peoples lawns? or anyone being attacked? it was in the evening when many people would be home and people would have had enough time to know about this via local news outlets so enough time to lets say stay inside. were there 49 animals out hunting people in the local suburbs? because Im pretty sure this is not how it all went down. this was done not for human safety why is everyone so willing to fall for this? this was done because it would have cost them a fortune to sedate house care for and transfer these animals to rescues etc. There was nowhere for them to go and that alone is a travesty. They did not need to kill all these animals. were they all hanging out like am exotic herd in one spot waiting to be shot? No it took time to go out and track them down, enough time to have fish and game arrive with more than enough tranqs. They just couldnt be bothered to do this. Between fish and game zoos and vets they had the means to tranq the animals but not the consideration for these animals to attempt to keep them alive. stop defending the pretend rights of make believe people in fictional situations.

      October 19, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mary-Az.

    Senseless. In today's world tranquilizers can be adapted to the size of the animal. I understand the threat to human life but this was pure ignorance and cruelty.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Boldlygo_SEA

    This is just another case of how law enforcement works in this country – Shoot first and ask questions later! Human safety come first – but it could have been guaranteed without a bunch of yehoos from Ohio going on a shooting spree. Absolutely disgusting!

    October 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
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