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Ohio’s Exotics Owners Lose in Court—Enforcement Must Follow

Written by Jennifer O'Connor | April 30, 2014

It took the deaths of four dozen wild animals to compel Ohio officials to tighten the state’s lax laws, but some roadside zoo owners still balked. Cyndi Huntsman, who operates a notorious roadside zoo in Massillon called Stump Hill Farm, and Mike Stapleton, who keeps tigers in Marion County, were part of a group of plaintiffs who filed a complaint in federal court to challenge the new laws. The challenge was dismissed, and the plaintiffs’ request for a new hearing was denied. Yet both Huntsman and Stapleton have failed to obtain required permits to keep dangerous wild animals.

We’ve asked the Ohio Department of Agriculture to investigate these facilities for violations of state law and to confiscate any unlawfully held animals.

Huntsman reportedly keeps dozens of dangerous wild animals, including tigers, bears, and primates, and Stapleton reportedly keeps five tigers on his property in ramshackle pens. Ohio’s Dangerous Wild Animal Law was passed in 2012, and exotic-animal owners were given until January 2014 to meet requirements and obtain insurance and permits. Huntsman and Stapleton spent two years fighting the new regulations instead of complying with them.

Stapleton Tiger 1
Stapleton Tigers (2)
Stapleton Tigers (3)

What You Can Do

Laws don’t do people or animals any good if they are ignored. Please ask the Ohio Department of Agriculture to take immediate, decisive enforcement action against Cyndi Huntsman and Mike Stapleton.

Commenting is closed.
  • suziesavetheanimals says:

    come on, its about time you thought about the animals, these are wild animals are are meant to be free. uphold the law, send these poor animals to a sanctuary so they can live out the rest of their lives how they are meant to. stop pampering to these losers, show compassion, show the world you actually care

  • absolutely ridiculous these animals belong in the wild not in cages in backyards! free them all now …… Come on America make it illegal and send them back to where they belong!

  • lori conley says:

    These animals need to be in a Sanctuary where they can roam!

  • Oh my god, what kind of a life is this! America do at the right thing put these animals in a sanctuary, somewhere where they can roam free from poachers and game hunters. This is slavery.

  • MJ says:

    They dont belong in this filthy cagtes. They should be running around in their natural habitat. What on earth are these people thinking? they are not things that can be like this!! they are LIVING THINGS!

  • Alexandra McSporran says:

    This is wrong.

  • Karen rivelli says:

    What needs to be done is that they need to transport them to where they belong and call it a day…them go to jail…shameful stupid people almost on every corner

  • rare white tigers, unbelievable. All of these animals need to be correctly housed with large outdoor areas

  • Why would a person want to keep a magnificent animal that belongs in the wild stuck in a cage in their yards? Disgusting, selfish and egotistical people.

  • Debra Heverly, MD FACEP says:

    The recent loss in Louisiana to free Tony the Tiger to a sanctuary is so sad – he is doomed to a truck stop as ‘property’ of his owner! This is all so sad!

  • Madeleine Pennock says:

    It is totally wrong to keep a wild animal in a cage unable to act as a wild animal. It is like prison with no release and absolutely cruel. Please stop this dreadful cruelty. It is bad enough that animals are kept in zoos, where their welfare is considered, but to be owned privately in a cage in the back yard is completely wrong.

  • Lore Harmison says:

    These Animals belong in their Environment, the WILD, just like we do not belong in THEIR Environment and live in Homes.

  • Lisa waite says:

    They should freed and put back in the wild where they belong . People make me sick

  • Liz Waanders says:

    These Tigers belong in the wild not as a pet they are selfies people please free them

  • Chloe Jones says:

    These beautiful and magnificent animals DO NOT belong in a cage! They deserve to have a life in the wild where they should be! Immediate action needs to happen.

  • Mickey Staley says:

    WHAT IN god’s name is wrong with this country? Why would they allow Tigers to live penned up and miserable, they don’t allow other wild animals to live that way.If they would free all of them maybe they could build up the tiger population some, they sure can’t do it in pens, so unfair!

  • Do you remember the Zanesville massacre? Terry Thompson’s widow wouldn’t allow the few surviving animals to stay at the Columbus Zoo. She claimed she “loved” them and would care for them. She hauled them back to her Zanesville property but has now given them up. And to who? Exploiter Cyndi Huntsman of the infamous Stump Hill Farm! Do these animals deserve this lack of care? After all they’ve been through? I hope EVERYONE will sign this ACTION ALERT demanding Ohio Dept. of Agriculture take IMMEDIATE action to save these animals. Do we need to see another Zanesville massacre for something to happen for them?

  • Terry says:

    I can’t stand people hurting animals that is just plain sick.

  • vincenza says:

    USA are supposed to be a democratic country and that means protecting men and animals’ rights,how can such things happen?

  • Richard says:

    Horrible, scandalous! Leave these animals alone, they don’t need bad people like you, cruel and selfish! 🙁

  • Alethia says:

    Please, Please, PLEASE get these beautiful animals to a Wild Animal Sanctuary where they can at least spend the rest of their days uncaged!! These animals do NOT deserve this kind of treatment. Especially because the Tigers are on the top 10 critically endangered species list!!! End this madness NOW!

  • Tutti Borsdorf says:

    As proud Americans you will surely want for WILD creatures to LIVE in the WILD where they belong and where they are happiest.

  • Arens Marie-T£herese says:

    This is scandalous, these animals belong in the wild !!!

  • Cheri Whitley says:

    Heartbreaking.even dogs shouldn’t live like these wild animals r being kept.!! They should be wild and free and if that’s not possible now,they should be a law that they have to have huge amount of land to roam and think they r wild.not on a concrete flow and in a cage soo small.its inhuman and sickening….

  • Please release these poor captive tigers, what a terrible life they have to lead, Living in concrete enclosures for such majestic animals. They have nothing to do, it’s unbearable that any living thing should have to live this way.

  • Kitty Plourde says:

    Why are people in your county allowed to do what relates to abuse of wild animals by keeping them locked up in small pens with no chance for a normal life. These animals should be free to roam in their own habitat and not crated for the amusement and monetary gain of greedy so called humans. This is disgusting and needs to be abolished immediately. These animals are not even well cared for, never mind that this is no life for them. Please, please stop giving permits for this kind of behavior, it certainly shows Ohio is living in the dark ages and certainly not a state I want to visit.

  • This is horrible. Please put these poor animals back in the wild. They probably need to be rehabilated first. God didn’t make them to be put in cages. Althe poachers need to be stopped. Gds creatures deserve to be in their natural habitat.


    These are free animals – Please give them their freedom back and let them have a dignified life!

  • Eri Asai says:

    I am so sorry to learn that the wild animals kept in cages like this.
    Please release them (and since they had been kept in cages), they should be transferred to the wild sanctuary or somewhere for rehabilitation.

    I was very annoyed to know that there are people who treat wild animals like this They should know that they are not toys. They are living creatures. What do they feel if someone would keep them in cages without freedom?

    It is so wrong.

  • Olivia M says:

    This is disturbing and heartbreaking!

  • Purnima says:

    please for god’s animals from such cruelty! they deserve to live in the wild and not to be our pets!

  • Janet van Zyl says:

    This is beyond cruelty, if you want to keep wild animals, at least give them open spaces, they were not created to live in a cage. But the wheel turns and what goes around, comes around.

  • harroch says:

    enough cruality let them leave re monsters

  • donny deb says:

    Do you really think this is the way a tiger WAS INTENDED TO LIVE?? Stop all this nonsense and release them to a wild reserve when at least they can be tigers and not someones way to make money being a roadside attraction.

  • Chris says:

    Please stop this! This is immeasurable horrific abuse. How can anyone cage an animal who’s natural behavior is to run? This is ridiculous and incredibly sick. It must stop!

  • Mrs Lee says:

    Please stopping caging and profiting off such beautiful animals. They need a place where they can roam and feel free. How would you feel if your were them and you were living in a cage? We need tough laws so the people who mistreat these animals have to close down and not be allowed to own and profit. They are Greedy and don’t care about the animals.

  • These animals deserve a to live the life they were intended to – not locked up in cages. This is unfair and cruel. The rules must be enforced otherwise why bother having them. These roadside prisons or “zoos” should be outlawed – how is this entertainment for anyone? Please do the right thing and free these beautiful creatures. Thank you.

  • Dian Nilsen says:

    Wild animals should be left wild. Cruel to do anything else.

  • Loretta says:

    Please free these animals as they do not belong in small cages for personal pleasure!!! totally disgusted with the human race and how we feel we own everything!

  • Ohio zoo owners and keepers are confining wildlife animals to small, non-spacious cages when they should be in their natural habitat roaming where they choose. I am arguing for the freedom of the species to have freedom from human capture and torture of any kind. I am always told that nobody cares about those creatures but I imagine myself being them and seeing the pain in there eyes and feeling the pain in their bodies. Let them roam as you would like to roam. As a human being I would hate the treatment that they are suffering and feeling that life is over and just living in misery waiting to die.

  • These animals don’t deserve an existence locked up in a cage. They deserve a life out in the wild where they belong.

  • As a member of the human race I would hate to be confined and tortured in a cage until death. Let them roam in their natural habitat.

  • Bhanu Rekha says:

    This is insane…a shame to their royality….they should be returned back to the forest…

  • Nicholas Casacchia says:

    Take action against Cyndi Huntsman and Mike Stapleton!!

  • This is disgusting treatment of some of the most rare and precious animals in the world! Do everything in your power to hold these horrible people to account for their inhumane actions!

  • doris says:

    those beautiful animals are not ours, they belong in the wild and shouldn’t being confined to tiny cages !

  • mary fischer says:

    Terrible shame on these ppl for treating these beautiful animals this way!!!!

  • lindsay fisher says:

    Please stop this cruelty now! They should be wild and free not ours to treat this way so heartbreaking! Very angry indeed stupid ppl u need locking up not the tigers