On Wednesday, May 4th, State officials seized 10 exotic animals, including five tigers, two pumas, two baboons and a chimpanzee, from Stump Hill Farm on Klick Road after their owner allegedly failed to obtain approval to have them.
Erica Hawkins, a state spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) told local news that the owner, Cindy Huntsman, failed to acquire a permit or an exemption as required by state law.
Authorities served a warrant and an order to transfer the animals. Perry Township police maintained a perimeter around the property, and Canton provided SWAT team members in case an animal got loose. The Ohio State Highway Patrol escorted the animals to a temporary holding facility in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, until the animals can be transferred to sanctuaries.
Huntsman argues that her facility is exempt from the exotic animal requirements as a licensed educational and rehabilitation facility.
Hawkins, said the ODA was working with Huntsman for years to let her keep the animals. “There were two options when the new laws were passed: either get a new permit or get accreditation from a third party. Huntsman had been attempting to obtain accreditation from the Zoological Association of America. The ODA discovered earlier this week that the zoology group denied Huntsman’s application in December.”
Huntsman intends to appeal the ODAs seizure of her animals and contends her permits were grandfathered in when the new law was passed.
Hawkins said the animals will be held at an ODA facility in Reynoldsburg until legal proceedings are completed. If Huntsman’s appeals fail, the animals will be moved to no-kill sanctuaries.
State lawmakers put stronger restrictions on “dangerous wild animals” like tigers after a Zanesville man caused local panic by releasing dozens of potentially dangerous animals in 2011.
WCCLAS New Staff