October 19th, 2011
01:37 AM ET

Schools closed as exotic animals prowl Ohio

Officials in eastern Ohio declared schools closed Wednesday as sheriff's deputies equipped with night vision attempted to hunt down dozens of exotic animals - including bears, lions, tigers and cheetahs - who escaped from a preserve following the death of its owner.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said deputies, armed with shotguns, were patrolling areas in pickup trucks early Wednesday morning.

"There are still thought to be several dangerous animals on the loose, creating a public safety threat."

In nearby Licking County, Sheriff Randy Thorp said he has activated the county SWAT team "who will be equipped with night vision and the necessary weapons to deal with any encounters with such animals."

The menagerie of about 48 animals on the loose also includes wolves, giraffes and camels.

Deputies shot dead about two dozen of them Tuesday.

Schools in at least four districts were declared closed for Wednesday, as authorities asked residents to stay inside until the rest of the animals were rounded up or killed.

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Filed under: Animals • Bears • Camels • Tigers • U.S.
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Micha

    I live in the area. Local law enforcement received reports from people who spotted these dangerous animals running loose. A few sheriff's deputies went to this so-called animal preserve and found a dead man on the ground with lions, tigers, and bears wandering free. Darkness was approaching and they were facing this situation alone in a rural area. How long do you think it would take for them to locate and request help from the MANY people it would take to provide assistance. They were told that there were as many as 48 wild animals on the loose. Do you think there are dozens of people in a rural area with access to tranquillizer guns who are availablle to respond at a moments notice? Do you expect uncaged wild animals to just stand around and wait for these people to arrive? Once these animals dispersed, it could be extremely difficult to locate them in the dark. They presented a threat to the public, especially in the beginning when most local residents were unaware that these animals were in the area. As I write this, some of these animals are still on the loose. Who knows how far they have traveled overnight. Do you expect everyone in the central Ohio area to stay indoors indefinitely? I'm sure law enforcement didn't enjoy killing these animals. They did what they are paid to do, which is to protect the public. If you want to be angry with someone, be angry at the irresponsible man who ran this "animal preserve". He was just released from prison where he was serving time on a weapons charge and there have been concerns about his operation for some time.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      If there was such concern about his animals they should have been taken away a long time ago....

      October 19, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    Can you imagine spottin a giraffe on the exit ramp ? Time ta lay the pipe down!

    October 19, 2011 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    if he was just released from prison how did he acquire all these animals? i cant imagine it would be cheap.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • dave dave

      the idiots who bought them as cute babies give them up when they're older and not so cute

      October 19, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |


    October 19, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. justathought

    Another reporter who doesn't know the meaning of 'menagerie'. I read in the "L.A. SUNDAY POST" a reporter discribed a field of flowers as "...a menagerie of color..." I know I have a spelling problem, but I go nuts when professional journalists and reporters misuse a word that sounds fancy, but it is the wrong word to use. It seems that the mistake is not noticed and those people who want to sound 'sophisticated' start using the word wrongly, and soon there is a new definetion for the word. Example: exoic: the word long ago was defined as a forieigin object imported into the country, i.e. bananas are exotic. Now the word has taken on the meaning of something rare or unusual, because in the 1940s a journalist used "exotic" wrongly. The word caught on as meaning 'rare' or 'unusual', so now it has an additional definition. Are "exotic dancers" imported from a foreigen country? May be, but that isn't the intention of the description.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      Kamal Ataturk had an entire menagerie named Abdul.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Right, justathought.
    "Dirty dancers" would be much more descriptive, and often more accurate than you may think.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mmmmm

    oh, just a dead owner/convict suffering from 12 monkeys fever...

    October 19, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. fernace

    I think hind sight is 20/20, but for criminys sakes, why was this mans "menagerie" not regulated, especially if it had been "problematic" in the past!? Could no1 forsee the dangers of excactly the scenario they are dealing with now? I don't know about Ohio, but most states have regulations against importing, owning & housing wild amimals! This was a disaster in the making & should have been shut down long ago! That is also the job of law enforcement! Was the man keeping the animals killed by 1 of them? Crazy!!

    October 19, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Well, I would still consider giraffes to be exotic...

    Lions and cheetahs, too...

    I have to agree with justathought, ferbace, and most of all, JIF, who has been making me laugh so hard my stomach is still hurting.

    October 19, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. ~I am not David~


    October 19, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bee

    Um....I hope the state of Ohio is so proud of itself now; innocent animals murdered because of backwoods laws....don't blame the owner; blame the lawmakers; if there was supposedly animal cruelty charges before why the heck were exotic animals at his place? There is also no reason to shoot to kill unless the animals were charging...and you can bet your bottom most of them weren't charging anybody...I hope the state of Ohio is proud now; and showing the murdered animals on tv just shows what kind of state you are....it's daylight outside now..no more reasons to just kill....now you can tranquilize and watch to make sure it takes.....

    October 19, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sarah

    Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!!!! Oz in Ohio?

    October 19, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    The animals rebelled. George Orwell predicted this.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ banasy:
    I made you laugh?
    I thought I was being serious.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    Someone should check on Mr Peebles to make sure Magilla didn't get out.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
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