October 19th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

All but two animals accounted for, sheriff says

[Updated 3:31 p.m. ET] A grey wolf and a monkey were still on the loose 19 hours after authorities began hunting down animals released from a farm outside Zanesville, Ohio, a local sheriff told reporters Wednesday.

"We have 48 animals that are dead and those were animals that were released or got out of dens," said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz. Authorities were able to save six animals, which are being transported to the Columbus zoo, he said.

The animals were among 56 exotic animals released Tuesday from Terry Thompson's farm outside Zanesville.

Thompson, 62, was found dead and authorities were waiting on the results of an autopsy, Lutz said. But he added that preliminary investigations indicated Thompson released his animals and then died from a self-inflicted wound. He had pried open cages and left the farm's fences open.

Animals that had to be put down around the owner's 78-area property in eastern Ohio include 18 tigers, nine lions, six black bears, three mountain lions and two baboons, Lutz said.

Flashing signs on the highways in eastern Ohio warned motorists Wednesday: "Caution. Exotic animals."

Schools shuttered and some frightened residents said they were keeping to their homes as sheriff's deputies hunted lions, tigers, leopards and grizzly bears that escaped from a preserve after the death of the owner.

Lutz said his deputies, who found themselves in a volatile situation, had to shoot some of the animals at close range. A Bengal tiger was put down after it got agitated from a tranquilizer shot.

"We are not talking about your normal everyday house cat or dog," Lutz said. "These are 300-pound Bengal tigers that we have had to put down. "When we got here, obviously, public safety was my number one concern. We could not have animals running loose in this county."

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Filed under: Animals • Justice • Leopards • Monkeys • Mountain lions • Ohio • U.S.
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Justin

    What probably just annoys me the most is that more than half those animals shot I guarantee were just sitting around looking at the cops, not even trying to run or even attack while they were then shot at close range from a shotgun with the cops then acting like idiots at the corpses (which you won't see reported on CNN). Come now these were captive human raised animals. Sure they are wild animals and COULD of attacked and some may have but the vast majority of the time human raised captive animals are quite tame. I just think it was a bit of overreaction and them just not caring.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • KC

      This is a tragedy in every sense of the word. These cops over-reacted to say the least. look at the pictures of the dead animals. there are large cats laying next to what would normally be their prey. they weren't attacking because they weren't hungry or scared. it is obvious they were just there wondering what the hell was going on because they'd never been outside of their confinement before. How dare these people destoy them for no reason! Animals have no choice in how we treat them. It is obvious these had been in captivity all of their lives. This is a truly shameless display. I wish there were some criminal proceedings that could be brought against these people.

      October 20, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Alix Chace

      I agree completely! These authorities showed total ignorance in finding a solution to the situation.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • eejo

      I agree, I think they overreacted for sure. what a terrible waste of life.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Maggie

      I completely agree with KC. There should be criminal proceedings brought against these people. This story completely saddens me. These majestic animals were gunned down due to a complete overreaction by the police force. Shame on all of those involved.

      October 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • elaine

      I totally disagree. Those were dangerous animals roaming loose. Those animals would eat your dog, cat, kid and you. People who keep them and train them are mauled and killed by their own animals, so what makes you think those cuddly lions and tigers were no threat to the population? The article stated that schools were shuttered and people were terrified, as well they should be.

      October 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. D.M.

    Sad thing, sad planet. We don't understand nature, and the bill will be a high.


    . . . <

    October 20, 2011 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Alix Chace

      Thank you for sharing a representation of those who can not speak for themselves: the poor slain animals that were so beautiful and who were a victim of human negligence and Cruelty in the end.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. gung hoe

    I know its probably been said earlier,but it needs to be said over and over.Shame on you state of ohho that man should NEVER have been aloud to possess these exotic animals. SHAME SHAME ON YOU OHIO. I hope the people responsible for this is having as much trouble sleeping tonight about this as I am

    October 20, 2011 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. 11BravoPapa

    So this guy released the animals then offed himself. What a waste of a human life. All for nothing

    October 20, 2011 at 5:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Alix Chace

    Please join me in condemning how the Zanesville, Ohio situation of wild animals being released by an irresponsible owner of exotics such as beautiful Bengal tigers was handled by authorities. Matt Lutz should be asked to step down given his ignorant method of handling the situation by just shooting all these endangered animals.
    These men showed great ignorance in their handling of this, how men can not find a better solution in the presence of so much technology and tools in the modern world shows a total lack of effort and vision. leadership: FAIL.

    Lutz should Resign from his position as county sheriff and if he doesn't the people should demand he steps down
    Tigers can't protect themselves in our world, we need to protect animals we have taken under our care and placed in a world in which they can not protect themselves

    October 20, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Tankles


      Did you read that they tried tranquilizers whenever they could? Do you realize that a tranquilizer is not one size fits all? A tranq for a tiger will kill a baboon and a tiger tranq will just anger a bear, maybe make it drowsy 15 minutes later. You're expecting 38 doses of tranquilizer darts to have been measured out for each animal (not knowing the exact size of each, mind you), distributed to every police officer out there, then expect the officer to pick out the right dart when they see the 318 lb tiger or the 278 tiger, and then expect the tranquilizer to hit perfectly and make the animal fall asleep immediately, and THEN transport the animal properly to a waiting cage somewhere without it waking up?

      I'll be honest, the fact that they were able to save a handful of animals and that no humans were harmed is utterly amazing to me when you see those odds. Did the animals deserve to die? No, but neither did a child waiting for the bus when a tiger attacked, a situation avoided completely by the actions of the police department.

      October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      If I lived in Zanesville, Ohio I would be grateful to the law enforcement officers for protecting the lives of the innocent citizens. The owners' actions are shameful, the county & state authorities should have forbid him from keeping exotic animals, but the Sheriff's and deputies are to be commended for risking their lives and doing their duty to serve the citizens of that county.

      Alix, you are just ignorant. And evidently childless.

      October 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 3fates

    I agree that there must have been another way, rather than shoot and kill beautiful endangered animals. There was no immediate threat to any human life.. and anyone in their right mind wouldn't have been in close range to employ a tranqualizer shot... Ignorance is the word here, the law enforcement, the state and the crazy owner...and unfortunately those poor animals paid the price for it. So, so sad!

    October 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary

    I was outraged and horrified at the news of how this was handled by law enforcement. What a tragic waste of life! There must have been a better way to deal with the situation. Is our prevailing philosophy as a society "Shoot now and ask questions later?" Have we become so numbed to violence that violence is seen as the only way of dealing with a situation?

    October 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. elaine

    If the tigers or lions had eaten a kid, the responses here would be different. I live in Alaska and if a bear mauls someone I blame the person, not the bear. I moved into their backyard, they didn't move into mine. Having said that, why in the heck was this clown allowed to keep such dangerous animals in the first place? Did anyone check on him at any time to make sure he was maintaining the place? I don't blame the police, the fact that they were able to save some of the animals is a testament to their courage and attempts to do the least harm. If a pack of lions or tigers get loose in my neighborhood, I hope the law inforcement would do the same.

    October 20, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Val Timmer

      As a human being, you should be intelligent enough to stay inside your house until the animals are recaptured. Obviously, life is not that important to you.

      October 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Val Timmer

    Obviously, the sherriffs department did not have the equipment (tranquilizer guns) or the brains (to call a unit that did) to recapture these innocent animals without a slaughter. 2400 tigers left on the earth and these trigger happy clowns kill 24. Why wasn't the "zoo/illegal exotic farm" in their jurisdiction monitored more carefully? God rest the souls of these animals and may those who had target practice be forever reminded of the tragic loss of life.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nate

    I love all the facts here http://www.talkerline.com

    October 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Really?

    God rest their souls? Really? It wasn't the people of Ohio who kept the animals, it was one moron who decided to play born free with them before he offed himself. If he was that concerned for them, he would have called someone to let them know about the animals before he ate his gun. The animals were going to do whatever animals do out there, and being prudent, the authorities took 'em out. God rest their souls? God give you a brain. Go hug a tree.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Yuan Yi Peng (袁毅鹏)

    [ SOS ] Complaint about Human Rights Violations by IBM China on Centennial

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    Tragedy of Labor Rights Repression in IBM China
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    IBM detained mother of ex-employee on the day of centennials

    October 23, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
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