PETA, Humane Society, Jack Hanna address Zanesville, Ohio tragedy (VIDEO)

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

After the death of dozens of exotic and wild animals in Zanesville, OH, the public is expressing outrage over the killings, and both experts and activists are speaking out.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and wildlife expert Jack Hanna have all made statements on the killing of wild animals that have escaped from Muskingum County Animal Farm, a private wildlife reserve in east-central Ohio.

Many people are furious at the killing of so many wild animals—up to 44 so far, according to Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz—but well-respected wildlife expert Jack Hannah agrees with the decision the sheriff made last night to shoot-to-kill in this case.

"You cannot tranquilize an animal like this, a bear or a leopard or a tiger [at night]," Hanna said Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning, America. Hanna, who is the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, explained that a tranquilized animal could run off and hide after being hit by the tranquilizer. This could create an even more dangerous situation, making the already dangerous and elusive animals even harder to find, and an even greater risk, not only to officers, but to the public, as well.

PETA released a statement today, following the deaths of dozens of the escaped animals, which included bears, lions, wolves and tigers:

“The shooting of dozens of exotic animals in Zanesville is a tragic example of just how wrong things can go when people are allowed to keep wild animals. Keeping exotic animals is inhumane and unsafe for both animals and people, and it's time that Ohio did something about it."

The Humane Society of the United States also indicated that Ohio, known to have some of the most lenient restrictions in the United States on the housing of wild and exotic animals by private individuals, needs to do something to strengthen its laws, and do it quickly:

"Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately held dangerous wild animals," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said to CNN. "In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries because the state hasn't stopped private citizens from keeping dangerous wild animals as pets or as roadside attractions. Owners of large, exotic animals are a menace to society, and it's time for the delaying on the rulemaking to end."

There was obviously concern regarding the killing of these animals, but "we do not fault them for using lethal force," said Debbie Leahy, captive wildlife regulatory specialist for the Humane Society of the United States to CNN. "What we're finding, in places where they have lax regulations ... rural sheriffs and local animal control officers are being forced to deal with issues ranging from rampaging chimpanzees to tigers running amok," Leahy said, and, typically, officers in these areas are not trained to handle these types of animals in these extreme situations. She also echoed Hanna's concern about tranquilizers, indicating that, while they are sometimes an option, they take time to work, potentially giving them time to harm a person or to get away and hide. Also, if the animal in question has a high level of adrenaline in its system, the tranquilizers can also work to simply make it more agitated and, therefore, even more dangerous.

Regarding first responders who have to man the frontlines to protect people and actually kill the animals, Leahy said, "We have found, in some cases, they're just as traumatized as the rest of us." Sometimes, she indicated, they will even require counseling following such an event. "They don't want to have to shoot these animals."

"People shouldn't be blaming (authorities)," Leahy said. "They should be blaming the Ohio government for not taking action to prevent this incident."

"People have to understand something ... human life comes first," Hanna told CNN. "No one loves animals more than me, but human life has to come first."

For those who would like to help the remaining captured animals, more information is available: Captured Zanesville, Ohio, animals transferred to Columbus Zoo (VIDEO)

Read more about the released wild animals in Zanesville, OH, and view additional video footage, on
Lions, tigers and bears roaming I-70 in Ohio (VIDEO)

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Video: ABCs Good Morning, America


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
With friends like Jack Hannah, who needs enemies?

Submitted by sharon m (not verified) on
This is a very sad day to know that the inocent animal has to pay the price of the humans that keep them. This should not have happened to these animals. The laws for these animals being kept by the ordinary person who isa not working with the states to protect them has to change. This is another nash ordeal except the animals who did not want to be here are put to an end by people who hurt just as much to kill them as they had to do. So sorry to the police dept. in Ohio. And my prayersw are with you all.

Submitted by SUZANNE (not verified) on
Einstein once remarked that the "advancement" of man is directly proportional to his compassionate treatment of the animals and planet around him... Obviously we have a long way to go! IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE!!! From puppy mill issues to horse slaughter and factory farming (to name a few) we must step up and be responsible! This unfortunate tragedy must be the spark to begin a new era of animal law. We must start living sustainably in accordance with nature and respect all life. GO PETA! ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE, WHERE ARE YOU? I have been unemployed for 18 months and sacrifice to donate to you--PLEASE STEP IN! THE PUBLIC WANTS CHANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Seriously, SHAME ON YOU Jack!!!!!....So disappointed that you actually supported this. How many of the animals that were shot..............hours and hours later...(time to have tranqualizers and use them ) were killed that there was anyone in danger. Lets talk about the location in which the animals were spotted. No, the truth is there is so much more to this story that the general public doesent know. Huh Sheriff? You finally got your chance and you took it. Shame on you. This wasn't about public safety....and alot of people know. You are only convincing people who are unaware of your antics.

Submitted by bzb (not verified) on
you obviously didn't read a single word of the article. your ignorance is off the charts.

Submitted by Rob (not verified) on
This is just crazy ..... They say they couldn't use tranquilizers but don't they use tranquilizers to capture these animals in the first place. They weren't born in cages so just sounds like lazy redneck police work to me..Pulling Jack Hanna into this only proves they know they did something inhumane. Sadly this card trick method works on the average American so now everyone will think : "Oh Jack says its okay so it must be right." sad......I think the state and officers should be to blame..And I hope PETA takes more steps to ensure someone takes ownership on this catastrophe...

Submitted by AD (not verified) on
I agree. I truly do not know who this Jack Hanna person is, but what I gather about this person is that he is a former director of the Columbus Zoo and a TV personality and as such, I do not find him to be an expert on animal behavior in any way. Sure, zoo people are all about "humane" treatment of animals, right? Not! The fact that he is a TV "personality" says even more about his lack of care for animals and his willingness to exploit and oppress them for personal gain. They certainly could have used tranquilizers! It seems, they went trigger happy and were in a panic mode. This is appalling!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I've watched Jack Hanna on tv many times. I've seen him struggle to be comfortable around the animals his animal handlers put in his lap to impress some tv show host. This man does not know or understand animals and their species' natural behavior.... wild, exotic, or otherwise. I don't agree with PETA in most cases, but this one is a no-brainer. This "sheriff" reacted to the opportunity to gain some notariety without regard to or consideration of the appropriate options he could have taken. If he had done all he could to contain the situation instead of hunting and killing (first), he would have been a hero to everyone.


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