Animal lovers were stunned - and saddened - when an Ohio exotic animal owner released his 56 animals into the wild and then killed himself. Terry Thompson owned lions, tigers, bears and other wild animals on his farm near Zanesville, Ohio. Law enforcement officials were forced to kill all but six of the animals to avoid human deaths.
Ohio's lax laws on exotic animals made his rural "zoo" possible - and he sometimes provided animals for photo shoots, including one with Heidi Klum.
"I wrote a letter to Heidi Klum's people," Larry Hostetler, executive director of the Animal Shelter Society of Muskingum County, Ohio, told CNN. "I strongly voiced my opinion that if they're going to hire animals for entertainment, they might want to check handlers' backgrounds -- that Terry Thompson had been convicted of animal cruelty."
"Of course, I never heard anything back," he said.
Now, people are questioning why Thompson was ever allowed to have exotic animals at all. Plenty of celebrities own - or have owned - wild animals.
Champion boxer Mike Tyson might be showing off his love of pigeons these days, but at one time he owned several tigers. Tyson's tigers -- Kenya and Storm, two female white Bengals, and Boris, a golden tabby male - were his sparing partners until his lack of permit and bankruptcy forced him to relinquish the animals to a Colorado sanctuary.
Michael Jackson owned several exotic animals on his Neverland Ranch, including the famous Bubbles the Chimp. The King of Pop also kept an ostrich, a giraffe and a llama on his ranch for awhile, along with two tigers. He eventually sent the tigers to a refuge in Texas.
Socialite Paris Hilton is known for her menagerie of animals that include countless dogs. The scandal-prone reality star also opted to buy a tiger after winning a $5,000 jackpot in Las Vegas. She eventually had to get rid of the tiger - named London - after it got too wild.
Instead, she moved it to a family property in Nevada because "if it ever got loose I'd be in so much trouble."
Maybe she should have thought of that first?
Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner has a zoo permit for his famous ranch in California. The boyfriend of Shera Berchard reportedly keeps wild rabbits, peacocks and spider monkeys on the grounds of the ranch. No word if the bunnies feed the animals as part of their Playboy contracts.
Do you think owning exotic animals should be outlawed in the United States?
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- Terry Thompson