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Ohio farm's seized baboon dies in state custody at sanctuary

Published: September 7, 2016 12:26 PM

MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) — A 22-year-old baboon seized from a northeast Ohio farm in the state’s crackdown on exotic animal ownership died at a sanctuary while in state custody, and the owner is seeking answers about what happened.

Cyndi Huntsman of Stump Hill Farm told The Independent in Massillon the state informed her attorney late last week that a female hamadryas baboon that had been sent to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion, Indiana, had died. The state didn’t explain how, she said.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which oversees the state’s exotic animal rules, had been notified on Aug. 30 about the baboon’s death, department spokesman Mark Bruce said. The results of a necropsy aren’t yet available.

It is the third of Huntsman’s animals to die in state custody since the Department of Agriculture took five tigers, two pumas, two baboons and a chimpanzee from the farm in May, saying the farm hadn’t met Ohio’s tightened restrictions and permit requirements for keeping such creatures. One of the tigers gave birth to four cubs at the state holding facility in Reynoldsburg, and two of those cubs died.

Huntsman said the baboon, named Pandora, had been taken in by Stump Hill after a Pennsylvania family couldn’t care for her. The animal had anxiety problems but was otherwise healthy when she was seized, Huntsman said.

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The baboon’s death further discourages Huntsman, who has legal challenges pending in an effort to get her animals back.

“It’s not real good odds,” she said. “By the time I am done fighting, there will be no one to come home. They’ll all be dead.”

Ohio enacted its stricter rules on ownership of dangerous wild animals after a suicidal man released lions, tigers and other creatures from a Zanesville-area farm five years ago. Many of the animals seized since then have been relocated to state-approved facilities elsewhere.


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