Local Sanctuary Demands Regulations for Wild Animals

Dozens of exotic animals escaped from a private preserve in Ohio

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A barn stands on the property from where exotic animals escaped a wildlife preserve in Zanesville, Ohio

    The founder of San Diego’s big cat and wild animal sanctuary in Alpine is “deeply saddened” after most of the 48 wild animals that escaped in Ohio were killed. She’s calling for stricter regulations restricting the sale and possession of dangerous wild animals.

    “We are reaching out to local officials to assist where and how needed and waiting on further information on the condition of the animals,” said Lions Tigers & Bears founder Bobbi Brink.

    Cages that housed dozens of dangerous animals were left open at the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Ohio. The owner was found dead. The preserve had lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears. The sheriff says he believes up to 35 of the 48 loose animals had been accounted for. Most of them were killed.

    The Muskingum County Sheriff's office has received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals at the property, Sheriff Matt Lutz said.

    Ohio is one of 10 states that don’t regulate private ownership of dangerous wild animals.

    “This is an example of how the system has failed and threatens the safety of nearby residents,” said Brink.

    Brink says there should be stronger regulations that require owners to place chips on the wild animals.

    “So that animals can be easily identified and officials know exactly the number of wild animals they need to account for,” said Brink. “We’ve got to get control of the breeding.”

    California is regulated.

    “We actually have the strictest caging regulations in the United States, but the regulations aren’t always enforced,” said Brink. 

    And, she says, they’re not strict enough. 

    “Just to give you an example, to house a tiger it’s 350 square feet, eight foot high. And then it’s 150 square feet for each additional tiger. That’s pretty inhumane,” said Brink.

    She says her facility in Alpine is built “safe, safe, safe” and her animals all have chips.

    “We practice what’s called protective contact. There is always chain link fence around our animals. Each animal has its own lockdown bedroom,” said Brink. “We practice emergency procedure.”