Zanesville, Ohio Town: Dozens Of Exotic Animals Set Loose, Killed

CAUTION EXOTIC ANIMALS. At the Wednesday press conference, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said 49 animals had been killed, and a monkey possibly infected with herpes B virus was still on the loose. He said there were a total of 56 animals kept on the farm.

Dozens of wild animals are on the loose in Zanesville, Ohio by their owner before he committed suicide, sparking a shoot-to-kill hunt in which 49 of the wild beasts, including 18 endangered Bengal tigers, were killed. Authorities killed 49 of the 56 animals, some at close range, including the tigers, six black bears, two grizzlies, two wolves and 17 lions, said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz.

Barbara Wolfe, a veterinarian, said she shot a tranquilizer dart into the tiger, but it got up and charged her from 15 feet away. A deputy shot the tiger dead. “I’ve never been in fear of my life more than then,” Wolfe said. She works at The Wilds, a refuge not far away from Zanesville that keeps exotic animals like rhinos and giraffes.

Owner Terry Thompson, 62, who had been charged with animal cruelty 11 times since 2004, was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted wound when authorities went to the farm on Tuesday after reports of animals running free, Lutz said. They found gates and animal pens open, but no suicide note.

Schools were closed all through the area and local residents feared for their lives as the dangerous creatures began to roam freely across Muskingum County. The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium described the situation as being “like Noah’s ark wrecked” and defended killing the animals out of concern for public safety.