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Mark Duncan, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2010, file photo, Cyndi Huntsman poses in front of caged tigers at her Stump Hill Farm in Massillon, Ohio. After the Ohio Department of Agriculture took five tigers and five other exotic animals from the farm on May 4, 2016, one of the seized tigers gave birth to four cubs. Two of the four cubs were found dead Friday, May 20, 2016, in a holding area at an Ohio Department of Agriculture facility in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and the other cubs were moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio. The department says it took the animals because Huntsman hasn't met Ohio's tightened restrictions on keeping such creatures, but Huntsman argues her farm is exempt from permit requirements and the animals should be returned.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two of the four cubs born to a seized tiger at Ohio's exotic animal holding facility have died, and the others have been separated from their mother and moved into temporary care at a zoo, a state Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said Monday.

The cubs arrived after officials took five tigers and five other exotic animals from Stump Hill Farm in Massillon on May 4. They were moved to the holding facility in Reynoldsburg, where officials checking on them Friday found two cubs dead while in containment with their mother and siblings, department spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said.

The cubs had appeared to be doing well, and it's unclear why they died, Hawkins said. Because of that, she said the remaining two were taken to the zoo, which has equipment and experience for hand-feeding animals. A necropsy also is planned.

State officials hope to move the cubs, their mother and the other seized tigers to a sanctuary that would be contracted to keep them until any legal challenges are resolved, Hawkins said.

Owner Cyndi Huntsman has an administrative appeal pending with the department over a quarantine order and plans another over the order that led to the seizure. After that, the issue could be taken to court.

The state also took two pumas, two baboons and a chimpanzee from Stump Hill, which officials considered to be the last large facility not complying with stricter rules enacted after a suicidal man released lions, tigers and other creatures from a Zanesville-area farm in 2011.

Huntsman argues that her farm is a licensed educational facility exempt from permit requirements and that her animals are no threat and should be returned. Her attorney, John Juergensen, contends that the state improperly seized Huntsman's property and that the cubs' deaths are among the "detrimental consequences."

Juergensen said he and Huntsman are considering their next legal steps.

Huntsman is one of several owners still in legal disputes over animals under the state restrictions.

The others include Kenny Hetrick, who had 11 animals seized from his private sanctuary near Toledo. One, a male lion named Leo, was euthanized last year by the state, which said he'd been in failing health and had stopped eating.

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