Could an animal escape like Ohio's happen on the Grand Strand?
Thu, 20 Oct 2011 03:55:02 GMT —
Since Tuesday night, the Muskingum County Sheriff says the small town Zainesville, Ohio has been on alert as authorities hunted down exotic animals.
The animals had been released by Terry Thompson, the owner of an animal preserve, who then killed himself, Sheriff Matt Lutz said.
By the time it was all over Wednesday night, 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, a pair of grizzlies, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon had been shot. 49 animals were killed of the 58 total.
Could an animal escape of Zainesville, Ohio scale happen on the Grand Strand?
Simply put, no, according to two people who run local preservations where exotic animals are housed.
In North Myrtle Beach, there's a T.I.G.E.R.S. preservation station. T.I.G.E.R.S. stands for The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species.
Dr. Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, T.I.G.E.R.S. director and founder, says what happened in Ohio "is the tragedy of a person going postal, not a story of an exotic animals. Ohio has easier standards for collecting wildlife."
He adds that Ohio allows an "alternative farming", which lead to the buying and selling of exotic animals like Bengal tigers.
"It creates a dilemma that someone can have those. That can't be done in South Carolina," Antle said.
In terms of comparing the T.I.G.E.R.S. preservation, Antle said there is no comparison.
"Our facility is much more complicated that zoos. We have dozens of people on staff, on location all the time at our preservation. This guy had been in jail. These animals were living in deplorable conditions. "
Cindy Hedrick runs SC Cares. The Georgetown animal sanctuary houses 160 animals on their property, ranging from African tortoise to wolf-dog hybrids.
She took NewsChannel 15 inside the sanctuary Wednesday to show what safety precautions they take on a daily basis, including animal compounds built mainly by and through donations.
"To care for these animals is extremely expensive," Hedrick says.
She adds that while it's hard to see any silver lining with the loss of so much animal life, that hopefully people will gain more awareness of the hazards of owning exotic pets.
"They're not meant to be in someone's home. They're not even meant to be here. They're supposed to be in the wild, somewhere," she said.
South Carolina laws specify an owner must have a permit to own live wildlife. If not, they can be slapped with a mandatory fine as high as $1,000 or up to six months in jail.