Ohio's Position on Exotic Animal Ownership

As an Ohio resident, I can say that we have some really great things to offer tourists – beautiful lakes, wonderful cuisine, professional sports, world famous amusement parks, and even an upcoming mental_floss trivia show. (Shameless plug alert).

In addition to all those great attractions, it seems that we also offer people the chance to come face-to-face with incredibly dangerous, carnivorous animals like that big guy pictured above. Not just at the Jack Hanna's world-famous Columbus Zoo, but also perhaps in your backyard or in the grocery store parking lot.

You’ve probably heard by now about the tragic story that unfolded in rural Ohio, where dozens of exotic animals escaped (or were released) from the property of a private citizen who was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. As of this evening, CNN reported that many of the escaped animals had been killed, and one monkey remained at large.

Like many residents of the Buckeye state, I wasn’t aware this was even an issue until today's news. However, a little research uncovered a report called Ohio’s Fatal Attractions that was published by The Humane Society of the United States earlier this year. It contains a number of eye-raising passages, like this:

Due to the lack of regulation of dangerous wild animals in Ohio, many unqualified individuals across the state possess, breed, and sell these animals. This is a growing problem, as exotic animals are easily available from breeders, auctions, and Internet dealers.

And this:

…Since 1990, Ohio ranks fourth among the 50 states in dangerous incidents involving big cats, bears, and non?human primates that resulted in injury and death.

We do? The report even references the exact animal owner involved in this current situation as:

A man sentenced in 2005 to six months of house arrest and fined $2,870 for a conviction on abuse of animals claimed to have 21 tigers as well as lions and leopards.

As for the many stories I’ve seen that refer to Ohio’s exotic animal laws as among the most relaxed in the nation, it seems, as with most things, politics play a role. Just before leaving office earlier this year, Ohio’s Former Governor Ted Strickland enacted a series of animal control laws that would have restricted the "possession and sale of dangerous wild animals, specifically big cats, bears, wolves, non?human primates, large constricting and venomous snakes, and crocodilians."

However, the new administration promptly nixed the new regulations, proving once-and-for-all that even that pesky “let’s-not-get-mauled-by-ferocious-jungle-cats” issue is not enough to get politicians to reach across the aisle.

If you’re interested in seeing how restrictive your state is when it comes to lions and camels and other non-native species, Born Free USA has a state-by-state rundown.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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