Monthly Archives: October 2011

Ohio’s Exotic-Animal Keeper: Friend or Foe?


I read a bizarre, upsetting story in the headlines last week. Terry Thompson of Zanesville, Ohio was found dead in his home from an apparent self-inflicted wound on Tuesday, October 18. The kicker, you ask? He released more than 50 exotic animals from their cages and set them free before his apparent suicide.

Ohio authorities were ordered to shoot any animals and did so, resulting in 49 fatalities–including 18 rare bengal tigers, an endangered species. Police captured and killed lions, tigers, bears and other beasts. They also searched for a monkey believed to be carrying the HIV virus, but later confirmed he had been eaten by one of the other animals.

Thompson, 62, was known as an “animal lover” to the community who knew of his 72-acre exotic-animal farm. Sure, if the definition of an animal lover includes multiple animal-cruelty convictions including having an animal at large and two counts of rendering animal waste without a license. In 2008, Thompson was also charged for weapon violations after authorities found more than 100 guns on his property. I’m sure these weapons weren’t just chew toys for the kitties.

The state of Ohio is known for it’s weak laws on animal protection and is one of the easiest states to “lawfully” keep and maintain exotic animals in a residential environment. Thompson ran an exotic animal exhibit on his farm and cared for all his animals, but how much attention could he possibly give to just one animal with such a large amount running around? For someone who seemed invested in the care of animals, he must have known that a confined space in a rural area was not an ideal living environment. It also presented dangers for the community that had dealt with escaped lions and tigers before.

In love, there is a saying that goes, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.” An animal lover should know better than to confine nature’s creatures. The truth of the matter is that wild animals will never come back if they’re set free–because that’s what they’re meant to be.

p.s. The state of Ohio has agreed to take action and enact stricter regulations on wild animals. Help make sure they keep their promise by signing this petition!  

If Books Could Bark. 5 Great Animal Reads


Can your dog read?! Neither can mine. Anyway. For those who prefer the sophistication of reading a book, as opposed to watching a movie, put your pinkies up and dive into one of the following works of literature. The list is compiled of random books I have read that involve animals. Some are fictional stories I enjoyed a child and others I only came across because they were required on English-class reading lists. None the less, they’re all good and they’re all highly recommended…by me, at least.

1. Stuart Little

Little high, little low; little hey, little hoe. Stuart Little is a children’s book by E.B. White, written in 1945. The story centers around a small mouse born and raised by a human family. His adventures in New York City engage children of all ages. His shenanigans and encounters with danger, mainly cats, have captivated audiences for generations and the  book’s fame eventually led to a 1999 film adaptation.

2. Charlotte’s Web

E.B. White knew what was up. The author gained popularity with the success of Stuart Little and in 1952, he struck again with the release of Charlotte’s Web. The story about a pig named Wilbur who lived in a farm and sought advice from a spider, was well-received by children of all ages. Wilbur was rescued by a young girl who grows to love him as a mascot and not another animal on the farm that will be slaughtered. With the help of Charlotte, the spider, Wilbur escapes his fate and survives. The book was often criticized for its strong content and appeal to an older audience. It revealed some of the sadness that comes with man’s natural instinct to slaughter animals in order to survive. None the less, Charlotte’s Web remains a timeless classic.

3. Where the Red Fern Grows 

I was 12 when I first read this, and I was not impressed. But after giving it a second chance some years ago, Where the Red Fern Grows was a great book. The children’s book was written in 1961 by Wilson Rowls and gained a wide audience. It has since become a staple in middle school classrooms to help students make the leap from story books to chapter books. When Billy Colman finds two dogs on his walk home from school one day, his life is forever changed by the hounds. Throughout the story, Billy trains them to be exceptional hunting dogs while struggling with adolescence and the economic instability of his family. The story is a tear jerker; beware of water spots damaging the last few chapters of the book.

4. Animal Farm

Oh, a satire if ever there was one. Animal Farm, by George Orwell, was published in 1945. Orwell uses characters from a farm to tell a story of Stalinism and criticize the Stalin era before World War II. This book is definitely not one you’ll want to read to your children before bed, unless they’re fans of Russian history? Either way, it’s an exceptional read that attracted audiences because of it’s strange depiction and strong message.

5. Winnie the Pooh book series

You have no soul if you don’t think Pooh Bear is adorable. I’m kidding, but what’s not to love about a bear who’s only goal in life is to have a belly full of honey at all times? The first collection of Winnie the Pooh stories was published in 1926 by A.A. Milne. Milne created a timeless character that has lived on for generations through books, television series and feature-films. Pooh Bear and his friends are some of the only remaining genuine characters that children can admire. The innocence of Winnie the Pooh is refreshing in a time where sarcasm and innuendos have corrupted the world of children’s literature.

The 5 Movies All Animal Lovers Should Watch…According to Me.


I am a movie addict. I live for the smell of freshly popped corn and the anxiety of choosing the right seat in the theater. I prefer comedies and independent films, but tearjerkers can also be good for the soul sometimes. And while Academy-Award winning dramas and a fair share of Lifetime flicks can evoke a tear or two, I’m also a sucker for any story that involves a struggling animal. I’ve compiled a list of five films I consider great animal movies. There are many more, I just don’t have enough tissues.

1. Benji the Hunted (1987)

Why not the original Benji, instead? Well, because I’ve actually never seen that one. But I grew up watching Benji the Hunted on VHS. The film was one of the last ones starring the lovable, do-gooder pooch. Benji gets lost in the Oregon forest after a boat accident and goes through a series of trials and tribulations trying to rescue a pack of small cubs and get them back to their momma cougar. The film has hardly any dialogue, as it’s tough to train baby cougars, deer, wolves and raccoons to speak. But the musical score and expressions on Benji’s face are more than enough entertainment. It’s a feel-good movie about a dog trying to survive in the wilderness…something I’m sure we can all relate to.

2.  Free Willy (1993)

Who doesn’t think of the hit Michael Jackson song when picturing this orca whale jumping over a tween? I know I do. Free Willy is the story of a young boy who befriends an injured whale that has been captured by a group of whalers. Willy (the orca) is sent to an amusement park in hopes that he’ll be the next big moneymaker. The story continues with a series of misfortunate events and concludes when Willy is finally set free. (get it, now?) It’s assumed that man’s best friend is a dog but this classic film proves that man’s best friend can also be the largest oceanic dolphin in the world.

3. Balto (995)

I could watch this movie every day. Yes, it’s a cartoon film, but it’s also based on a true story so I’d say it cancels out. Balto was a dog that saved children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 serum run to Nome in Alaska. When all other sled dogs failed, Balto rose to the challenge and rushed to get through the brutal winter storms and deliver medication to the town. We can’t necessarily say it’s all true—unless the real Balto was also best friends with two polar bears and a Russian goose. Balto promises his platonic love, Jenna, to bring back the medication that will save her owner, a young girl. This film brings a small piece of history to light in the sweetest way possible.

4. Fly Away Home (1996)

If you can teach a child to ride a bike, you can teach a flock of geese to fly, right? Well, Anna Paquin did in the 1996 hit, Fly Away Home. When Amy (Paquin) moves to Ontario with her estranged father after the death of her mother, she comes across a brood of baby geese that have also been left without a mother. She assumes the role as their caretaker but quickly realizes the geese must learn how to migrate south for the Winter in order to survive. Throughout the film, Paquin and her father struggle to get to know one another but work hard to find a solution for the birds. The film is original in that it shows that any animal can relate to a person and people can respond right back.

5. Marley & Me (2008)

It’s cliché and you love it. Marley and Me, based on the memoir by John Grogan, tells the story of a family and their dog that was there through it all. The blonde overload somehow works on-screen—Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston and the golden lab that ties them together deliver a great film. Life can take unexpected turns at any point in time but your pets will always be there as long as you allow them to be. A pet knows you better than anyone—they see what no one else does and sense when you’re happy or sad. Marley’s death is inevitable and obvious, but I still cry every time he takes his last breath. When an animal touches your life the way Marley did, losing him is losing family. It’s a beautiful story and the film also set the record for the best Christmas Day box-office opener ever, so they must have done something right? (Fun Fact: 22 different Labradors played the part of Marley in the film.)