Sam Mazzola's exotic animals to be transported to other facilities

COLUMBIA STATION, Ohio - The exotic animals owned by a Lorain County man will be transported to other facilities around the country, following the man's death on Sunday.

"The animals are all being transported to animal sanctuaries," said Mazzola's friend David Garnek. "They'll be off the property within the next 2 or 3 days."

Garnek said that 4 tigers, 4 bears, and 20 wolves were still on the property. Smaller animals, raccoons, foxes, skunks and coyotes were shipped out Monday.

Sam Mazzola was found dead inside his home. The coroner's initial investigation indicated that he died as a result of asphyxiation, but authorities are continuing to investigate.

Following his death, a family member said Mazzola's animals are being transported to facilities that are similar to the one he owned and operated. All of the animals are healthy, the family member said.

Some of the smaller animals have already been moved to other properties. Mazzola had set up the arrangements prior to his death, in the case of an accident, the family member said.

Mazzola was known for his exotic animal pets and hosting bear wrestling shows. In August 2010, a bear on Mazzola's property killed 24-year-old Brent Kandra, who was a caretaker on the property.

He was due in court on Aug. 22 for alleged probation violations, but his attorney said he doubts his death was related to legal or mental health issues that emerged after his bear fatally mauled Kandra.

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