Marion Thompson, the widow of an Ohio man that committed suicide after releasing dozens of lions, tigers, bears, and other exotic animals last October, owes more than $14,000 in back taxes—a debt that has prompted local officials to file foreclosure papers on her sprawling 70-acre farm, reports The Zanesville Times Recorder.
The papers were filed on Wednesday, two days after two surviving leopards, two primates, and a bear returned to the farm once owned by her late husband, Terry Thompson. The Columbus Zoo had been housing the five animals under quarantine order.
Authorities killed 48 of the animals as a public safety measure on the night of the incident.
Ohio has some of the weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them in the country, reports MSNBC.
On Thursday, the Ohio House Agriculture committee considered a bill that would regulate exotic animal ownership in the state. The Senate passed the measure last month, reports The Advertiser Tribune.
Under the new bill, current owners could keep their animals by obtaining a new state-issued permit by 2014. They'd have to meet strict caretaking and fencing requirements, and post signs alerting people to dangerous animals on the property.
If the foreclosure papers go through, there is no word on where the five remaining animals would be relocated.
Should there be a federal law forbidding individual citizens from owning exotic animals?