Marian Thompson, the widow of Ohio exotic animal owner Terry Thompson, is set to reclaim six of the original 56 animals her husband set free before his suicide last week.
When it was discovered that the dangerous animals were on the loose, authorities intervened, shooting and killing many of the beasts in an effort to protect Zanesville and the surrounding areas’ residents.
Not all of the creatures were killed, however. Three leopards, two monkeys, and a young grizzly bear were captured and released to the care of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Marian Thompson wants them back.
Technically, there’s nothing the zoo can do to stop her either. Apparently, when the animals were taken by the zoo, they were taken with the permission of Mrs. Thompson.
Thompson’s lawyers informed the zoo that she would be there this afternoon to retrieve the animals that legally belong to her.
Dale Schmidt, zoo CEO and president, said in a statement, “What we’re trying to do is exhaust every avenue to make certain that these animals end up in a place that’s good for them and safe for the public,” according to the Associated Press.
Schmidt admits that he and the zoo have “no legal right” to prevent her from obtaining the creatures as long as she has the proper transportation.
Where Mrs. Thompson will take the animals is currently unknown.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights group, showed up in Columbus today to protest the proceedings and voice their discontent of Ohio exotic animal laws.
Although Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has responded to last week’s incident with an executive order strengthening Ohio’s exotic animal laws, PETA representative Matt Bruce says, “[The legislation] was too little, too late,” as reported by centralOhio.com.
Bruce and PETA protest not only Thompson’s reacquisition of the creatures, but also 10 facilities across Ohio that host animals. PETA says there ought to be a law forcing those facilities to close.
“Private citizens lack what is needed to care for these animals,” Bruce says, and he mentioned that once those “backdoor operations” are closed, the exotic wildlife could be transported to sanctuaries that have the proper resources.
Ohio laws aren’t the only reason exotic animals are kept, sold, and acquired in the state. A demand is created by photographers, television shows, and movies for access to the creatures.
Terry Thompson was no stranger to the business. Thompson lent a lion cub to supermodel Heidi Klum’s photoshoot, he appeared on the “Rachael Ray Show” in 2008, and the animal farm owner had brought his pets to various local nursing homes and pet farms.
It is unknown if Marian Thompson will continue her husband’s activities.
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz is primarily concerned with safety.
“If she wants to bring them back here, to this farm, then we’re working on what we’re allowed legally to do to make sure that everything is safe and appropriate,” Lutz told AP.