Massillon farm fights for animals' return

Massillon farm fights for animals' return

MASSILLON, OH (WOIO) - The legal battle over exotic animals housed at a Massillon farm will continue into the summer.

Cyndi Huntsman has owned Stump Hill Farm for 30 years, and about a month ago state agricultural officials seized 10 of her animals.

The state workers took five tigers, two pumas, two baboons and a Chimpanzee to a facility near Columbus.

Officials alleged Huntsman didn't have updated permits to match new state laws for exotic animals.

Huntsman and her attorney argue that she's exempt from the new laws under a license the state provided her years prior.

"It's been a hard two weeks with no sleep, that's it. I am exempt but the state doesn't want to honor that exemption," said Huntsman.

Recently, Huntsman saw a small victory after a Stark County judge ordered the state to return her animals by next week, but today her attorney told her the Ohio Supreme Court overturned the judge's ruling, saying that it was out of his jurisdiction.

The legal game of ping pong has caused a blow to the farm's business.

Huntsman said she hasn't been able to give tours or host educational programs.

"It's been a pinch in the purse strings not doing the programs here. We don't exploit the animals, the animals help to generate the funds that take care of them," said Huntsman.

Now Huntsman has to wait for a state hearing on Aug. 22 when she can learn when she can get her animals back, but she's determined to bring them home.

"I can only keep fighting," said Huntsman.

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