Categories: Zoos

Kenny Hetrick, owner of Tiger Ridge Exotics

This is an urgent matter.

Kenny Hetrick owns and runs a private zoo in Stony Ridge, Ohio, called Tiger Ridge Exotics. This is near the border with Canada. He can no longer afford to run his zoo because the state has placed tougher restrictions on his business and demanded improved security under new and tougher regulations for private zoo owners.

Mr Hetrick has not obtained a permit as required under the laws of the state because he does not have the money to comply with those laws. For example, he has to build a new eight-foot perimeter fence around his zoo which he can’t afford. Neither can he afford the cost of a $500,000 insurance policy.

Mr Hetrick wants to comply and he wants his permit but he can’t afford it.

The trouble is this: he will not agree to surrendering his animals to other sanctuaries. We are told, in a petition addressed to the Special Prosecutor, Ohio Department of Agriculture and John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, that not only is Mr Hetrick failing to comply with state law requiring him to upgrade his facilities, he has also threatened to kill all his animals rather than hand them over.

If that is true then all of us must have nothing but contempt for him. If that is true he is unfit to care for any animal.

The authorities can no longer give Mr Hetrick more time to comply with the new regulations since it has now been about two years during which he has failed to obtain a permit.

Mr Hetrick says that he is doing all he can to comply. Supporters of Hetrick, who don’t refer to his threat to euthanise all his animals, are trying to raise money. For instance, there is a Facebook page in which they refer to the requirement to build thousands of feet of eight-foot fence and fence posts around the facility. The fence is currently 4 feet high and it complied with the previous regulations. They don’t refer to any other costs which it appears that Mr Hetrick has difficulty in funding.

The animals at threat of being killed by Mr Ketrick include: 2 lions, a Kodiak brown bear, a liger (a lion-tiger hybrid), 6 tigers, a black leopard (black panther), a bobcat and a wolf hybrid.

Mr Hetrick has to surrender his animals or face criminal charges. The pressure is on. There is a need therefore for the state authorities to seize the animals unannounced in order to secure their safety.

You may remember the disastrous shooting of exotic species kept in a private zoo not so long ago. We don’t want something similar to happen in this instance. We want Mr Hetrick to behave responsibly towards his animals who shouldn’t be in a zoo in the first place, even if he can’t afford to keep them according to the laws of the land.

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

View Comments

  • All those negitive people s comments has never seen kenny, with his animals.they love him as much as your pet dog or cat loves you. Did you see the lion nuzzeling him. He kenny is the most gentle man i ever met. As a police officer of our town , the kids all loved him and respected him . He was a friend to all both four legged and two.. He would get out of bed in the middle of the night, after a call that a deer had been killed on a highway, to go pick it up ,take it home, cut it up, place it in cold storage to feed them. If you knew kenny you would love him

    H

    • Thank you, Shirley, for commenting. I appreciate your input. It is most welcome.

  • The state did the right thing in confiscating the animals. Kenny Hetrick is not a sympathetic character. He's an old, stubborn man with authority issues who feels the law doesn't apply to him. His refusal last year to accept help from rescues and sanctuaries willing to provide supplies or homes for his animals demonstrates where his priorities lie. It's too bad he's wasting the state's time and preventing ODA from placing his animals in real sanctuaries as litigation continues and his lawyer draws out the legal process with endless "witnesses."

    The amount of spin and distortion coming from his support base is nauseating, even more so with the recent euthanasia of an elderly lion due to failing health. As his supporters spin it, "ODA murdered a lion for no reason." Yeah, right.

    • I think you have hit the nail on the head with your description of him and the misleading information from his support base. Thanks for your input.

  • I am praying they make it work. I live in the area and they are very, very close. The biggest question is, will they let them come home, or will they find another requirement that he will never be able to meet? You know, if this was a case of young animals that someone just thought it was neat to have, I would be on the other side of the fence, but most of these animals don't have many years left and were comfortably set in their ways with Kenny and his family. It just doesn't seem right and somehow cruel in my eyes.

  • This is so sad. You all speak so terribly but do not really know. It is not a ZOO. He charges no money. He has taken in these animals as youngsters to avoid someone euthanizing them. He takes care of them with his own money and contributions from the community & visitors that can afford to donate. They are now mostly elderly animals that are living out the remainder of their lives with the family that has nurtured and cared for them for over 30 years. They have brought joy to the entire NW portions of the State of Ohio. He would never harm the animals in any way. The words that came out were words of desperation. The state is taking his family away. We have all said things under duress that we did not mean. This is all just wrong. Please no hateful comments. I'm just a concerned person on the other side. Thank you.

    • I feel for him. But, why hasn't the community that supports him come up with the money that would help him come up to standards? I don't understand.

      • The community has come out in droves to help him. The state purposely set an unattainable price with their new regulations. There should have been a grandfather clause. Interesting that the state abducted the animals as soon as the Reynoldsburg facility was ready.... It was a setup from the get go.

        • Thanks Jacq for your insight. There are quite a few comments supporting Kenny which is nice. I may have misjudged this but I was simply reporting what was on the internet.

      • Yes, in retrospect he seems a reasonable person with animal welfare at heart but he can't make it work which fatally undermines his objectives.

      • This is a quiet little place in a town with a population of maybe 500 people. Until this all came about I don't think the area realized the severity of the situation. I don't believe he has ever had to publicly plea for anything until now.

    • Thanks Lisa for sharing your opinion so honesty and with conviction. It is appreciated. I'll watch out for any hurtful comments in the future.

  • All these animals have know is Kenny.He has 30 years experience under his belt.Do not judge a book by its cover and drive by with assumptions. Even the news stations and people that visit state how HAPPY those exotic animals are...This man has put his heart and soul into the animals and PEOPLE with his services.Do not hold a few words against him in the heat of the moment. Kenny keep your head up

    • My two cents or whomever you areUnfortunately they are going to return them to him within 24 hours.
      Let me ask you this. When did they say how happy the animals are in the warm season? I'm not judging only God should do that. I'm stating an opinio. If it comes to facts you can do research and find out nothing good ever comes out of people like Kenny and what he's doing. It's the "30 years under his belt" that causes accidents. These are wild animals that he places himself in danger with everyday. If you really care about Kenny or the community you would want the animals with someone who might only have 5 years under their belt, but have a college degree on it and can better provide. I wrote this on one of the many support pages on Facebook.
      My opinion, repeat opinion, and hate me if you want, I feel anyone who says "As a last resort, the only thing I know to do is have my veterinarian come out here and put everybody to sleep. Just end it right here." Those are his words and how he thinks. I love animals and want the best for them. It seems he has the attitude that if he can't have them then no one else can.
      Someone stated they are going to end up having concrete walls and floors instead of lives nice hand outside. Fist off the animals shouldn't have ever been taken out of their natural environment. So hats off to Kenny for taking them from their "worse living conditions" It seems that he is unstable and that's scary considering his career as a police officer. He should have nursed them back to health and given them to a zoo so they have a warm place to sleep at night. How would you feel with a plywood box and a little straw to keep you warm with that cold wind coming off the fields? If you look at his place even on Google maps, you can see his own living conditions are not the best. Open your eyes people for the animals sake. They need a better home and I would tell him that if he was someone I grew up with. Like I said I'm glad he saved them but he's he one who said he would rather them be dead then taken away. Really how can I support that?
      Now I think there's a lot more people out there that feel the same as I. You can see that because in 18 months he just raised just under $3,900 on GoFundme.

  • Here's is what it looks like when you drive by. You can see it looks more like a junk yard then a zoo. If he can't keep up his property how can he run a zoo? You can use Google Maps Street View to see Stoney Ridge and this place.

  • It's no question he has the ability to take his own animals lives if he wants to. Just very sad that someone who "cares" for them so much could even think of that. Let alone say it aloud.
    However I think everyone is missing the big picture here. I don't think it's just the animals we need to be worried about. You all know if he did something really crazy we would hear people say. "We all saw that coming". So why isn't something being done for once before that happens? If he doesn't want his animals going to a zoo where they would be fed regularly, given proper medical care and happier, he just doesn't care!
    It's obvious he just feeding an obsession. Someone as unstable as this is trusted being a police officer is another big concern. If he can't understand and obey laws, what in the world is he out there enforcing them for. If he feels that way about his animals what would he do if his wife left him? He would say the same thing "if I can't have her, then no else can". I think he has said enough and was given enough time. Something needs to be done and quick before he feels even more empowerment. Just from every video I've seen and the things he said is all I'm basing these statements on. I care a lot about animals but even more for humans and that's why I am writing my opinion.

    • Thank you for commenting, Brian. I couldn't agree with you more to be honest. I hate to say this, however, but there is quite a laissez-faire attitude towards private zoos in some states in the USA. What I mean is the regulations are too slack and not enough checks are made on the people who wish to set up a private zoo and in any event private zoos are a disaster as far as I'm concerned.

      • Michael, thanks you for having this article and place for people to express their thoughts. I happen to live 15 miles away from Stoney Ridge. I drive by the place all the time and gaze over there. I always see the same animals sitting in the same places, either on top of the oversized dog house or in a corner of a cage. There is no way that anything could be happy in those cages. Especially now when it's so cold out. It's not like the care they would get at a zoo were they let them inside when the zoo is closed. These stay outside 24/7 no matter how much snow or how cold it is. You are right we are only an hour from the Canadian border. So the weather here isn't that much better than the weather in Canada. But like I said, once he does something crazy, then everyone will say we saw that coming.

        • It is extremely useful that you live only 15 miles from this private zoo. It allows us to assess things much more accurately. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and to provide us with the photograph and further information.

  • If his animals were taken would he be reimbursed? It's an ignorant knee jerk reaction to compare tiger ridge to the zanesville fiasco-which was a stupid waste of animal life by over reacting trigger happy officers who had little knowledge of animal behavior&a mentally unbalanced operator of the facility. Jack Hanna has displayed on his tv shows,a definite fear of a variety of animals,which led to his"shoot em to save the people"recommendation. Photos show the dead Zanesville animals to be still on the grounds&no one will convince me tranquilizing them was not an option. It's all a money&control game every state plays.

    • Hi Dallas. You make a fair point. I don't know Kenny (he is probably a decent but upset person) but if it's true that he said he'd rather kill his animals than have them rehomed, then they have to be taken from him. You have criticise him for having that attitude. It is a horrible and selfish attitude.

      Under those circumstances he would not receive compensation I suspect. He is in breach of the law as he is not licensed to keep these animals. It is tough.

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