Animal exhibitor accused of neglect
Copley exotic creature keeper to face 953 complaints in court
By Mary Kay Quinn
Beacon Journal staff writer
The owner of an exotic animal farm on Tuesday will face federal officials who
claim he committed 953 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Lorenza Pearson, owner of the L&L Exotic Animal Farm in Copley Township, will
face U.S. Department of Agriculture officials in Summit County court.
Pearson, who needs a federal license to exhibit exotic animals, could lose that
license and be fined up to $2,500 each time he is found in violation.
Pearson was in the news last month when a fire blamed on a space heater
destroyed his house. Two tiger cubs, a bear cub, two iguanas and some small
The alleged violations date to 1997, and many concern lack of veterinary care
and adequate structures for the animals.
“Many of these — and other — violations continue to this day,” according to
the USDA complaint filed in March.
The USDA notes that Pearson has owned anywhere from 26 to 82 animals at the
times he sought renewal of his USDA license.
As recently as February, Pearson had 18 animals — eight bears, three white
tigers, three “orange” tigers, two lions, one black leopard and one cougar at
his Columbus Avenue property.
County officials initiated action that led to the removal of 29 animals in June
2004, while the USDA removed seven bears in May 2005.
Failure to provide veterinary care to the bears was among the reasons the USDA
seized them, according to the complaint.
Many of the 119 alleged violations of veterinary care standards appear to deal
with record keeping, but in one instance, the USDA claims Pearson didn’t get a
veterinarian to treat a tiger with a lame hind leg.
He also didn’t watch the animals on a daily basis, according to the USDA, and in
January 2001 he was unaware that one of his tigers had died.
The USDA found fault with structures and fences on the property.
In February, the USDA found holes in the perimeter fences that surrounded the
enclosures of six tigers.
Sometimes the animals were in danger, according to the USDA. The USDA also
claims that cages had protruding wires that could hurt animals, and that between
1997 and 2001, some animals — including tigers and lions — were in enclosures
that were too small for normal posture and for freedom of movement.
Food could be bad, too, the USDA claimed. It said that in June 2000 Pearson
provided “old decaying food contaminated with maggots” to 26 tigers and lions.
As for Pearson, losing his home has been difficult, said his lawyer, William
Whitaker. But he has been working hard, he said, and someone is always on site
to take care of the remaining animals living behind the burned house.
Pearson could not be reached for comment.
Mary Kay Quinn can be reached at 330-996-3778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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