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.