Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Court: Ohio Doesn't Have to Return Woman's Tigers, Baboons, Cougars and Other Exotic Animals

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 9:50 AM

  • Rocky the Cougar, previously of Stump Hill Farm
Update: The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday ruled that a Stark County judge who ordered the state to return a small circus of exotic animals it had seized from a Massilon-area woman lacked the jurisdiction to do so.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture had previously taken five tigers, two cougars, two baboons and a chimp from Cynthia Hunstman in early May. The department argued that she did not have the proper permits after a 2012 change to state law in the wake of the Terry Thompson/Zanesville escapade. She argued she was exempt and was to be grandfathered in.

It went to court in Stark County and then Mike DeWine asked the Ohio Supreme Court to take a look at the case.

The decision found that the Stark County judge "patently and unambiguously lacks jurisdiction to order the return of the dangerous wild animals seized from Cynthia Huntsman and Stump Hill Farm."


(Original story 5/11/16): Last week, a Stark County judged ordered the state of Ohio to return a troupe of exotic animals that officials had seized on May 4. 

The Department of Agriculture had rounded up five tigers, two cougars, two baboons and a chimpanzee living at Stump Hill Farm in Massillon. Farm owner Cynthia Hunstman says she was in the process of arranging for the necessary permits and that the state intervened prematurely. (Rigorous regulations for exotic animal ownership went into effect Jan. 1, 2014, three years after Terry Thompson released 48 exotic animals on his farm in Zanesville and committed suicide.)

"For some reason, the state decided to come in and take the animals without any notice or warning," Juergensen told the Columbus Dispatch. "These animals don't pose a danger to anyone."

Judge Frank Forchione granted a preliminary injunction for the animals' return. It's not immediate, though; a state veterinarian advised Forchione to delay the order for two weeks to allow the animals some time between anesthesia treatments while traveling. 

Yesterday, Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a motion contesting that injunction, insisting that Forchione "patently and unambiguously lack[s] jurisdiction over this matter.”

A hearing on the injunction is set for May 19.

Tags: , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation