Atlanta 10/20/2011 1:05:46 AM
News / Law

Police Hunt Dangerous Exotic Animals Freed In Eastern Ohio

Schools in and around Zanesville, Ohio have been closed and residents of the area have been urged to stay indoors while authorities hunt some 50 exotic animals were that escaped from the Muskingum County Animal Farm Tuesday night. Sheriff’s deputies and SWAT teams armed with tranquilizers and guns used night vision goggles to search for the animals throughout the night. The menagerie includes lions, tigers, wolves, bears, mountain lions, cheetahs, giraffes and monkeys.

By Wednesday morning the majority of the animals had been caught or killed. Zanesville Mayor Howard Zwelling said authorities were trying not to harm the animals, but in some situations they were forced to put them down.

"We just had a huge tiger, an adult tiger that must've weighed 300 pounds that was very aggressive. We got a tranquilizer in it, and this thing just went crazy. We are not talking about your normal everyday housecat or dog. These are 300-pound Bengal tigers that we had to put down," Sheriff Matt Lutz said. "I gave the order ... that if animals looked like they were on their way out, they were put down. Public safety is our No. 1 concern.”

Lutz said “several dangerous animals” are still on the loose.

The Muskingum County Animal Farm is located about 2 miles outside of Zanesville. The preserve was owned by 62-year-old Terry Thompson, who was found dead of an apparent suicide Tuesday shortly after authorities got calls about the animals roaming the area. Authorities believe Thompson freed his animals before killing himself.


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