48 Wild Animals Released Wandering Rural Ohio
Owner Terry Thompson Had Been Charged With Animal Cruelty
Lion, tigers and bears ... in Ohio? Dozens of wild animals -- many of them "mature, very big and aggressive" -- have been set loose from a farm in Ohio by their suicidal owner. Police are locked and loaded and searching the countryside for the convict creatures.
An army of nearly 50 exotic animals was unleashed from Terry Thompson's farm in Muskingum County, Ohio, late last night, prompting a massive search for the animals, many of which posed a serious danger to the surrounding communities.
At a Wednesday morning press conference, Sheriff Matt Lutz revealed that the dozens of escaped beasts included lions, cheetahs, tigers, wolves and bears. Lutz says at least 43 of the animals have been killed, though a grizzly and a mountain lion are still reportedly roaming the area.
One large cat was hit by a car on the nearby interstate.
As darkness fell last night, Lutz (who did not have access to tranquilizer darts) gave the order to shoot all animals on site.
"Deputies were shooting animals at close range with sidearms," he said. "We cannot have animals running loose in this county."
Early this morning, Zanesville mayor Butch Zwelling revealed that Thompson committed suicide after releasing the animals from their cages.
Thompson, described as a "crazy old man," was a nuisance to local authorities. Last year he plead guilty to illegally possessing automatic firearms, and in 2005 was convicted of animal cruelty.