COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The widow of an exotic animal owner who released dozens of creatures from their eastern Ohio farm before killing himself has told state officials that she has relocated five animals that survived the 2011 incident.
The animals were among those at the Zanesville farm in October 2011 when Terry Thompson released dozens of dangerous, wild creatures before committing suicide. Authorities killed 48 animals _ including black bears, African lions and Bengal tigers _ fearing for the public’s safety in the rural area.
In a letter dated Dec. 30, Thompson’s widow, Marian, said she transferred the surviving animals _ two adult leopards, two primates and a bear_ to another Ohio farm. The Associated Press obtained the letter Wednesday through a public records request.
The state had released the animals to Marian Thompson in May 2012 after initially holding them at a Columbus zoo. The zoo had to euthanize one other leopard.
“After two years of constant consideration and emotional turmoil, it is with deep sorrow that I inform you of the rehoming of my exotic animals,” she wrote in the letter to an administrator at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “Their safety and well-being have always been my top priority and, due to continual threats made toward them and the property upon which they reside, I am forced to make this decision.”
Thompson did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Michael Rodgers, the department’s chief legal counsel, acknowledged receipt of the note in a letter sent to Thompson on Tuesday but said the state had not received a request to authorize the transfer of the animals.
Ohio’s agriculture director must authorize any transfer of a dangerous wild animal after Sept. 5, 2012, the effective date of the state’s new law regulating exotic creatures. Rodgers asked Thompson to respond in 10 days.
Cyndi Huntsman, who owns Stump Hill Farm near Massillon, confirmed Wednesday that the five surviving animals have been in the care of her federally licensed exotic animal education center between four and five months. Huntsman is among seven owners who are challenging Ohio’s new law, claiming the rules infringe on their constitutional rights.
Marian Thompson’s letter also said she moved two other young leopards to a separate address in the state. She said those animals were registered to another owner in Dresden, who is applying for a propagation permit.
Ohio’s new law required owners to obtain permits by Jan. 1 to legally keep their dangerous wild animals.
Permit applicants must pass background checks, pay fees, obtain liability insurance or surety bonds, and prove they can properly contain the animal and care for it. They also had to register their animals with the state.
The department has so far issued nine permits and received 63 incomplete permit applications from owners, said agriculture spokeswoman Erica Hawkins.
“We are trying to work with owners that genuinely want to be in compliance with the law to get them in compliance with the law,” Hawkins said.
Nancy Nighswander, of Tiffin, said obtaining a permit for her two snow monkeys and cougar wasn’t easy. The 60-year-old retired dog groomer said she mowed lawns to help pay for the roughly $3,500 in updates to her fences, as required by the law.
“I’ve spent hours and hours and hours going over the new (regulations) and making sure I’m in compliance with everything,” she said in a telephone interview.
Nighswander called the law overreaching and an overreaction to what happened in Zanesville. Still, she said she loved her animals.
“There’s such a strong bond with these animals,” she said. “They’re members of our family _ just like a domestic dog or cat.”
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy