Nightly News   |  October 20, 2011

Surviving Zanesville animals taken to zoo

Authorities in Ohio buried 49 dead exotic animals that were freed yesterday in Zanesville. The few that survived were taken to the Columbus Zoo. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now to that sad story out of Ohio where tonight authorities have buried 49 dead exotic animals, and the few that survived are being taken care of at the Columbus Zoo . All of them were released by an eccentric criminal who then killed himself. An update tonight from NBC 's Stephanie Gosk .

STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: In less than a day, Terry Thompson 's sprawling private zoo was all but wiped

out. These are the survivors: three cheetahs, two monkeys and a bear, brought to the Columbus Zoo where Harry Peachy takes care of the big cats .

Mr. HARRY PEACHY: This is not an animal you can just bring down to the vet.

GOSK: Thompson had 18 tigers and 17 lions in Zanesville . This zoo, one of the largest in the country, has just three tigers and four lions. Each one costs about $17,000 a year to care for. This is a good example of the kind of care that big cats get at a zoo. It is a cold, rainy day in Ohio and these two have the right idea. They are relaxing comfortably in a heated cave. But Ohio has some of the weakest regulations for privately owned exotic pets in the country. And since 2003 , the Humane Society has documented 22 incidents involving these animals. Everything from pet escapes to attacks on humans. Mr. WAYNE PACELLE ( The Humane Society of the United States , President and CEO): Ohio has an enormous number incidents relative to states that have strong policies to forbid keeping dangerous wild animals as pets.

GOSK: Tougher regulations may be a possible solution, but it took a painful lesson in Zanesville to get people talking. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, Columbus .