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Video: Ohio Cops Cope with Wild Animal Escape

October 19, 2011  | 

VIDEO: Wild Animals Escape In Ohio

Muskingum County, Ohio, authorities have mostly contained an outbreak of wild animals near Zanesville where a suicidal man released a horde of Bengal tigers, grizzly bears, and wolves.

All but two of the animals had been recovered by Wednesday afternoon, after deputies used night-vision equipment to track and kill many of them late Tuesday. Among the 49 animals killed were 18 Bengal tigers.

Terry Thompson, the owner of an exotic animal farm, had released 56 exotic animals from their cages, and cut the wires so they couldn't be returned to the pens. Thompson was found dead on the property with an apparent self-inflicted wound.

Only a macaque monkey were unaccounted for by midday Wednesday, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said at a press conference. The monkey poses a health risk because it's infected with herpes.

Deputies who arrived at Thompson's 46-acre property an hour before sundown on Tuesday began shooting the animals at the scene, which one neighbor said was "like a war zone." The neighbor also said he saw a tiger chasing a horse.

In one of his several press conferences in the past 24 hours, Sheriff Lutz described the initial scene at the property:

"As officers got out of their cruisers, there were animals running loose outside of the fenced areas. I had deputies who had to shoot animals with their sidearms at close range. That's how volatile this situation was. We are not talking about your normal everyday house cat or dog. These are 300-pound Bengal tigers that we have had to put down. We can not have these animals running loose in this county."

Several animal activists in Zanesville questioned the sheriff's decision to kill the animals. The Humane Society and Jack Hanna, formerly of the Columbus Zoo, supported the sheriff's decision, and PETA refrained from condemning it.

"The shooting of dozens of exotic animals in Zanesville is a tragic example of just how wrong things can go when people are allowed to keep wild animals," according to the PETA statement. "Keeping exotic animals is inhumane and unsafe for both animals and people, and it's time that Ohio did something about it."

Thompson had been released from prison on Sept. 30. He had pleaded guilty to possessing five fully automatic firearms, and was convicted of animal cruelty in 2005.

In April, an emergency order expired that had been issued by former Gov. Ted Strickland, prohibiting people convicted of animal cruelty from owning exotic animals.

by Paul Clinton

Sources: Columbus Dispatch, CNN, New York Daily News, and WSYX

Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

Rick @ 10/19/2011 4:07 PM

Get the meat to the processors and give your deputies a BBQ; lion steaks are supposed to be good.

Jim V @ 10/19/2011 4:09 PM

Terrible news. Killing 49 of 56 animals is a waste. Ironic the dead owner was the one convicted to cruelty to animals.

John Russell @ 10/19/2011 4:40 PM

Now just get them to shoot all the DEER running around ---give me all some AR-10s as ,223 too small for hunting deer . Drop tha population down please.

Tom Ret @ 10/19/2011 5:53 PM

If the animal activists in Zanesville had half a brain they would know that the sheriff had no other way to handle the situation without needlessly risking the safety of his officers and the public.

RICHARD ISAACS @ 10/19/2011 6:06 PM


Morning Eagle @ 10/20/2011 3:25 AM

I do not hold with needless killing of animals but in this situation law enforcement really had no viable alternative. Bet those animal 'activists' would have been singing a different tune if they or a family member had gotten chomped by one of those big cats, a grizzly, or wolves. Those carnivorous animals had to have been hungry or soon would be and not being in an environment where their natural prey was available, would have certainly started taking targets of opportunity. That is how they make a living when left where they are supposed to be. Humans are relatively easy prey to catch and subdue and in spite of our vaunted opinion of our species we are after all is said and done, made out of meat.

Why and how that individual had been allowed to collect such a large menagerie is inexplicable.

Ed @ 10/20/2011 4:11 AM

Great. A herpes-infested monkey is still unaccounted for.

Janet @ 10/20/2011 7:20 AM

The Deputies had to do a job which was to protect the citizens of Muskingum County. They did a wonderful job tracking down these animals aleast no one was killed by any of them. Now get that monkey off the streets! Good luck & God bless you all.

Deadman @ 10/20/2011 4:16 PM

That exotic animal farm has been there for a number of years,it seems unrealalistic that no contingency plan was formulated previously by the sheriffs department.They had prior knowledge of all of these dangerous animals but no plans to handle this eventuality,why is that?There was a definate danger to deputies and civilians in the area,but the sheriff had no plans except to shoot,the deputies had no training to deal with these animals except to shoot and some of these deputies had handguns to take down large game.What is wrong with this picture?The deputies were following orders and i can appreciate that they did their jobs to safeguard the citizenry but the sheriff had no contingency plans to contain some like this.I hope his term in office is up in 2012.This sheriff is incompetant.

INCOP @ 10/21/2011 4:17 AM

I couldn't disagree more with you deadman, I think this was the only viable contingency plan that could have realistically existed. Tranquilizers, the medication can not be kept on hand for several reasons. 1- cost 2- they are controlled substances which would have had to have been treated with a chain of custody. 3- The expiration is frequent which wastes tax dollars. Not to mention you have to be within 100 ft of the animal. and if you use an improper dose you get eaten or kill the animal anyway. This Sheriff gets an A in my book and should get a medal along with all the officers that did what needed to be done. The only person at fault here it Terry Thompson.

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