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Kelly Swope

Life on the Ark is a podcast series that reflects on the legacies of a 2011 incident in Zanesville, Ohio, during which fifty exotic animals were killed by county police upon being released by their owner. The first two parts, "Inside the Perimeter" and "Beyond the Perimeter," contain personal accounts from first responders who were on the scene in 2011. The remaining episodes in the series feature stories and interviews from exotic animal owners, animal rights activists, Ohio government officials, lawyers, and others who were directly impacted by this catastrophic incident.

Part One - Inside the Perimeter

Released Friday, August 26, 2022

On October 18, 2011, Terry Thompson of Zanesville, Ohio, released 56 exotic animals, most of them apex carnivores, onto his property before taking his own life. This part tells the stories of the county police and Columbus Zoo personnel who responded to the chaotic scene.

Part Two - Beyond the Perimeter

Released Friday, August 26, 2022

Building on the stories from Part One, this episode unveils some of the strange happenings outside the secured police perimeter, including an attempt to steal an adult male lion from the scene.

Part Three - Love Them to Death

Released Friday, September 11th, 2022

A look back at Terry Thompson's final years before the 2011 incident, including interviews with friends and local officials who knew about his animal collection.

Further reading:

Jonah Ogles, "Man or Beast?", Cincinnati Magazine; Chris Heath, "18 Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 3 Cougars, 2 Wolves, 1 Baboon, 1 Macaque, and 1 Man Dead in Ohio," GQ Magazine; Chris Jones, "Animals: The Horrific True Story of the Zanesville Animal Massacre," Esquire; Ben Chanan (director), "America's Animal Hoarder: Horror at the Zoo," Minnow Films; Matt Ampleman and Doug Kysar, "Living with Owning," Indiana Law Journal.

Part Four - One Earth, One Thousand Noahs

Released Monday, September 19, 2022

A brief history of how local and state actors tried and failed to prevent an animal-related disaster in the State

of Ohio.

NOTE: In order to meet podcast listeners where they are, ALL episodes are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. The first five episodes are available on SoundCloud as well.

Part Six - Lions, Tigers and

Released Monday, December 19, 2022

How police militarization and notions of public safety shaped the public's response to the incident.

Further reading:

Jennifer Carlson, Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline, Oxford University Press, 2015.

Jennifer Carlson, Policing the Second Amendment, Princeton University Press, 2022.

Part Seven - Zoopolis

Released Monday, December 19, 2022

A brief history of the relationship between the professional zoological industry and the private animal trade, with special attention to Jack Hanna's role as a spokesperson in the Zanesville incident.

Further reading:

Nigel Rothfels, Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. 

J. Donahue and E. Trump, The Politics of Zoos: Exotic Animals and Their Protectors, Northern Illinois University Press, 2006.

Irus Braverman, Zooland: The Institution of Captivity, Stanford University Press, 2013.

Part Eight - Prince Sattva and the Hungry Tiger

Released Monday, December 19, 2022

What are Zanesville's legacies, more than a decade later? Interviews with animal activists, legal scholars, journalists, and wildlife experts.

Part Five  - Rebuilding the Ark

Released Thursday, November 3, 2022

The full story of how the Zanesville catastrophe became the catalyst for the State of Ohio's Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 2012. Interviews with former exotic animal owners, state veterinarians, and animal advocates.

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