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|Article first published as Ohio Community Transformed into Wild Kingdom on Technorati.|
Lions and tigers and bears — oh my! The familiar line has a new meaning in one Ohio community after the owner of a game preserve freed upwards of 50 exotic animals. The owner of the preserve, located about two miles outside of the Ohio community of Zanesville in Muskingum County had a rather sordid past with charges of possession of illegal firearms, and animal cruelty complaints. No one however as of yet knows what caused the owner, Terry Thompson, age 62, to free all of the animals from their pens and then fatally shoot himself. His actions caused more than four dozen wild animals including lions, cheetahs, grizzly bears and tigers to be on the lost in the vicinity.
As of yesterday afternoon, all but two of the escaped animals have been found. According to reports a monkey and a wolf are still at large. A number of the animals were put down by Muskingum County Sheriff officers initially since the department did not have access to tranquilizer darts. Darts were subsequently supplied to the department to use in subduing animals located in any residential areas. A wide scale search ensued on Tuesday upon learning that the animals had been freed when deputies arrived at the game preserve compound.
News of the animals’ release spread , prompting calls from nervous citizens who didn’t know what to think when they began to spot bears, lions, camels, wolves, giraffes and monkeys on neighborhood streets and yards. Animal commentator and former Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna warned residents to remain calm if they came in contact with any of the animals. “Do not run” was his advice to residents.
A significant number of the animals were terminated on the preserve property by the Sheriff’s Department, however there were some animals that had escaped.
The Sheriff’s priority was to immediately contain the animals so as not to incur any human injuries or fatalities. As of this time, no human injuries or fatalities have been reported in conjunction with the freed animals. As a precaution however, schools were advised to close today. Otherwise, in the words of Zanesville’s Mayor Butch Zwelling, it was “business as usual.”