ZANESVILLE, OH (WOIO) –
Two animals remain on the loose in Muskingum County, including a monkey and a wolf. The monkey is a Rhemus Macaque from Asia, about 30 pounds, and considered very dangerous.
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz says the animals owner, Terry Thompson, released more than 40 exotic animals from their cages Tuesday evening, before committing suicide. His body was found outside of his Muskingum County Animal farm in Zanesville.
As many as 44 dead animals were recovered, including a 300-pound Bengal tiger, grizzly bear and mountain lion.
Lutz said that his deputies were not armed with tranquilizers and ordered them to shoot the animals – some at close range – because they posed a threat to the community.
The preserve had lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears.
One big cat was hit and wounded on the interstate.
Six animals were found still in their cages. They are now at the Columbus Zoo. These include, three leopards, one young grizzly bear, and two monkeys.
For safety reasons several schools closed Wednesday.
“This is a bad situation. It’s been a bad situation for a long time and the last thing we wanna do is have any of our public hurt. And we want them to take any precaution,” Sheriff Lutz said.
Muskingum County Sheriff Department has handled numerous complaints from the preserve in the past.
Well-known animal expert and Columbus Zoo director emeritus, Jack Hanna is helping with the hunt. Hanna says he has received a lot of complaints from animal groups, criticizing the police on shooting and killing some of the animals. Hanna says law enforcement had to do what they had to do to protect human life.
Hanna has been very vocal on the state’s animal laws. “I will do anything I can over my dead body to put these people out of business, to shut these auctions down,” said Hanna.
He went on to say he doesn’t want to shut everyone down. There are good breeders out there.
Ohio has no rules regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals. Hanna says he talked with the governor’s office today and plans to meet with Governor John Kasich today and tomorrow to talk about stricter animal laws.
Article Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News