Jumanji Takes over Ohio

By: Ashley Pifer

Illustrated by Brian Palubiak

One week ago, over 50 exotic animals were killed because of the carelessness of one man. Terry Thompson had in ownership over 10 different species of animals located on his farmland in Zanesville, Ohio. He took it upon himself to open all the cages and then take his own life.

Local authorities were informed and the city took action with the quickest, easiest means known to man: firearms. News of this began popping up all over Facebook and Twitter: “Hope I don’t see a bear on the way to class,” “Ohio is starting to sound like a game of Jumanji.”

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium thankfully recovered the animals that police didn’t shoot. What people do not realize is that this incident would never have happened had our legislation had an ounce of care in the matter of possession of exotic animals.

In 2009, Ohio was discovered to have the weakest animal laws in the United States. Former governor Ted Strickland put into effect an order in 2010 that forbid the possession of certain exotic animals, but it expired in April. Had Strickland placed stricter laws, the incident of Terry Thompson would have never happened because his animals would have been relinquished due to his counts of animal cruelty.

It was quite simple for Thompson to obtain these animals because the exotic animal auction, held in Canton each year, allows any person to purchase animals without as much as a background check. What it all boils down to is that Ohio needs to do itself a favor and protect both the animals and the humans from anything this catastrophic from happening again. No untrained person should be allowed to house animals at his or her property, and laws need to be in effect that prevent people like Thompson from having his own private jungle.