Forty nine die in Ohio…

20 Oct

Fifty one animals were freed from an Ohio Zoo yesterday by a troubled zoo owner who had encountered domestic problems over recent times.

After hacking the bolts off the gates enclosing the fifty-one animals, he took his own life. The story however does not end there. Whilst the main focus of  this story has been the ‘Noah’s Ark of dangerous animals’ roaming the streets of Ohio, I want to draw attention to the fact that the stories reported all over the world have diverged from the real story, as it was not just one life lost here, but forty-nine, inclusive of Terry Thompson (The Zoo owner).

These animals took to parading around the surrounding areas of the Zoo enclosure causing what has only be referred to as mayhem. It can only be reasoned that reports of continuous mistreatment by Mr Thompson had led to this, as the animals were hungry, malnourished and obviously on the prowl for food.

What concerns me is the manner in which the above disorder was dealt with. These animals which included endangered species, Bengal tigers, lions and bears were not tranquillised or even attempted to have been caught, but murdered! It is understandable that members of the public were roused with concern, panic and anxiety. I can’t say that I would have taken too kindly to having a lion in my back garden or that my own pet cats would have but were these animals not just doing what was common to their nature?  Searching for food?  After all, who are we to play God? To pick and choose when a life is worth saving or not? Or even to value one life over another? If we (humanity) are the one’s shooting to kill out of pure selfishness and these animals were the one’s killing for food then who is the bad guy here?

Search teams were ordered to ‘shoot on sight’ and it appears that no attempts were even made to get these ‘wild’ and ‘dangerous’ animals back into captivity. Jack Hanna (former director of Columbus Zoo) defended the Sheriffs actions to use live rounds instead of tranquilizers. He is reported to have said that ‘Human life is at the forefront and you can’t tranquilise animals in the dark, you don’t know where they’ll go.’ Hanna is obviously referring to the issue of the animals disappearing into surrounding forests upon tranquilisation with a view to them possibly being hurt themselves or not being followed by the shooter in order for them to be captured. Surely we live in an intelligent enough society to be able to prepare a plan which would mean stalking these animals from afar after being shot and then confining them? And if there was a fear of these animals being hurt then why on earth was shooting them any better?

It appears to me that once again the cheaper option was selected and whilst it has ‘dealt’ with the problem momentarily I don’t think that the Ohio Police or the Sheriff of Muskingum County will be hearing the end of it.

I ask this question here; if a group of fifty-one hungry patients of a ward absconded would we shoot to kill in order to deal with the problem?  If a group of  fifty-one angry unarmed prisoners escaped from a low security prison, would we shoot them? I think we all know the answer here…

Sheriff Lutz concluded his statements by stating that ‘if there is a good thing to this situation, it’s that we haven’t had anybody hurt.’ I don’t think too many people will be agreeing too kindly with that statement Lutz. I for one definitely do not…forty-nine may not have been hurt yesterday, but forty-nine definitely died.

Source: The Times, Jacqui Goddard, BBC News

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