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For Immediate Release: 04/17/08

Officials to confiscate animals from embattled Ohio exotic animal owner

25+ year offender of federal animal welfare laws will never keep exotic animals again

Akron, OHBorn Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) is applauding a Summit County judge’s order to permanently confiscate exotic wild animals being kept in deplorable conditions by Lorenza Pearson, owner of L&L Exotics Animal Farm (L&L Exotics) in Copley Township, OH. Judge Judy Hunter also permanently banned Pearson from possessing exotic animals.

In partnership with authorities, Born Free USA has located sanctuaries for one lion and eight bears. Pending approval by county officials, the lion could be sent to Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc. in San Antonio, TX and the bears to Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO.

“Mr. Pearson has been cited for more than 950 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and we are extremely happy that county and township officials have acted to keep him from ever harming another animal, or person, again,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., senior vice president and general counsel for Born Free USA.

The actions are the culmination of more than two decades of dangerous and uncaring behavior by Pearson. The tragic list of incidents at L&L Exotics includes the death of Pearson’s two-year-old son, mauled by a tiger in 1983; the mauling of his two-year-old grandson in 1998; and in 2006, an attack on a USDA veterinarian by a tiger and a fire that killed a black bear cub and two tiger cubs. A February 2008 USDA report reported continued non-compliance with, and serious breaches of, the federal Animal Welfare Act, putting both animals and the public at risk.

In 2007, Pearson’s USDA license was reportedly revoked and he was found guilty of 26 violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The presiding judge, Victor W. Palmer, commented that the violations were “in every sense egregious, obvious violations ... that substantially endangered the health and well-being of the animals Mr. Pearson kept at his facility.”

“I am shocked that this man, with his horrific history of animal care, has been allowed to continue to keep animals for so long,” adds Paquette. “Now that local officials have acted, the Ohio legislature needs to sit up and take note. What further proof is needed to convince legislators that regulations on the private ownership of dangerous wild animals are long overdue?”

Born Free USA (formerly known as the Animal Protection Institute) has worked with Ohio Representative George Distel on HB 45, legislation which will regulate the private ownership of exotic animals such as lions, tigers, bears, and nonhuman primates. The bill is being held up by the Chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Born Free USA (www.bornfreeusa.org) is a national non-profit animal welfare and conservation organization and a member of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition (www.cwapc.org).

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Born Free USA, 916.267.7266, press@bornfreeusa.org

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