Feline Conservation Federation Outraged Over Ohio Man's Release of Lions, Pumas, and Tigers

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FCF has many qualified facilities ready to accept exotic felines in crisis, and also, has created a Wildcat Safety Net Fund to pay for emergency transport of felines.

FCF believes that existing Ohio laws and Thompson’s long history of animal abuse and neglect should have barred him from owning animals.

The Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) is outraged that Terry Thompson was allowed to keep a collection of more than 50 exotic animals including lions, pumas, and tigers, which he released Tuesday, shortly before committing suicide.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of these innocent animals, the fear imposed on the public, and the grief experienced by animal lovers everywhere," said Lynn Culver, executive director of the non-profit Feline Conservation Federation.

Thompson was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and animal escapes 11 times between 2004 and 2009. He also had been convicted of felony firearm violations, and had been in prison as recently as September 2011.

FCF was aware of Thompson and the various charges against him and expressed concern over reports of animal neglect occurring at his Zanesville, Ohio, facility during his recent incarceration. At the time, FCF-affiliated sanctuaries attempted to work with law enforcement and wildlife agencies to have Thompson’s animals transferred to other facilities, but authorities declined to assist in these efforts.

"There were plenty of warning signs in this case, but they were ignored by those who had the authority to prevent this tragedy," says Culver. FCF believes that existing Ohio laws and Thompson’s history of animal abuse and neglect should have barred him from owning animals.

According to Indiana FCF member Tim Stark, founder of Wildlife In Need, “Terry was a hoarder. His animals were emaciated, and the place reeked from dead and rotting carcasses.” Stark was just one of several FCF members who contacted Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz to urge legal intervention, and offered his assistance in placing the animals.

During 2011, Ohio exotic animal stakeholders have been working with legislators and regulators to develop new exotic animal regulations. “It would be unjust and unproductive to allow extremists to use this tragedy as an excuse to ban, rather than regulate, exotic animals. Banning animals would punish all the responsible, law-abiding people for the actions of one deranged individual," Culver said.

A majority of the animals have been killed by local authorities. FCF regrets the death of so many innocent animals, but is relieved that no member of the public was harmed. FCF has many qualified facilities ready to accept exotic felines in crisis, and also, has created a Wildcat Safety Net Fund to pay for emergency transport of felines.

The Feline Conservation Federation is an international organization of exotic feline owners, breeders, sanctuaries, nature centers and zoological parks. It teaches responsible captive feline husbandry and wildlife conservation. The next Basic Wild/Exotic Feline Husbandry Course is offered October 29, at Wild Animal Safari, in Strafford, Missouri. The next Wildlife Conservation Educators Course will be taught November 5, at the Cincinnati Zoo. Visit the FCF web site for information on upcoming FCF events and educational opportunities.

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