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PETA helps relocate 13 Ohio bears to Colorado sanctuary

By Alan Johnson, dispatch.com

741 days ago   Article ID# 3914648
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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

COLUMBUS, OHIO (dispatch.com) - The saga of Ohio's exotic animals law, which began with a catastrophe in Zanesville, had a happy ending in Colorado for 13 bears.

Nine adult bears and four cubs seized from or surrendered by Ohio owners were transported at the end of May from the state's wild animals containment facility in Reynoldsburg to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, a journey of more than 1,200 miles.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights organization located in Norfolk, Virginia, volunteered to be the intermediary in relocating the animals from Ohio to their new home in the 600-acre sanctuary outside Denver. The organization helped pay for the transportation and some of the care for the animals at the sanctuary.

Erica Hawkins, representative for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said the agency has relocated 145 animals in the past year or so because of a state law prohibiting people from owning exotic wild animals without meeting stringent requirements.

"We had a large number of animals to find homes for and are always thankful for assistance with making connections to credible sanctuaries," Hawkins said.

Brittany Peet, director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement for PETA, said Ohio officials "have done a stellar job in ensuring all the wild and exotic animals that have been seized or surrendered have gone to reputable sanctuaries that can care for the animals."

PETA is so pleased with how the law is working that it is giving Gov. John Kasich its Helping Captive Wildlife Award.

The bears, some black and some brown, were all moved at one time, arriving in late May at the sanctuary, which also houses a number of carnivores, including lions, tigers, coyotes and wolves, in separate areas. PETA sent two wildlife veterinarians along for the trip.

PETA didn't make public the move until after an acclamation period. The Ohio bears have been released to roam their new habitat, complete with open fields, ponds and dens where they can hibernate in the winter, Peet said.

"The bears are looking great," she said. "They're finally getting to live like bears."

Some of the Ohio bears were living in poor conditions, were missing teeth and some were declawed. One animal, named Sweet Baby, was found emaciated in a dog crate in a barn.

The impetus for the 2012 wild exotic animals law came on Oct. 18, 2011, when Terry W. Thompson released his menagerie of exotic creatures on his farm near Zanesville before committing suicide. Forty-eight animals, including lions, tigers and bears, were killed by law-enforcement officers to protect the public.

"The dangerous wild animals act has been a huge victory for the animals," Peet said. "Other states should look to the success Ohio has had as a model."

Copyright 2018 dispatch.com   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 741 days ago   Article ID# 3914648

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