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911 Call Prompted Search For Exotic Animals In Ohio

(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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ZANESVILLE, Ohio (KDKA) — Authorities in Ohio have released more information about the release of dozens of exotic animals.

Operator: “911 ..”

Caller: “Yes, this is Mrs. Kopchak on Kopchak Road and we live next to Terry Thompson and there’s a bear and a lion out.”

Operator: “There’s a bear and a lion out?”

Caller: “Yeah, right up behind us.”

With that 911 call, the search for lions, bears and other exotic animals began. It put the town on edge.

Walking postal delivery was suspended and Zanesville City Schools were closed.

“I thought that we wouldn’t have school and it was pretty much scary,” Craig Nelson, a third grader, said.

“I was glad I was home when I heard about it because there were so many different animals out and about – we just didn’t know where they would wind up,” Kevin Gaskill said.

The fact that deadly force was necessary was defended by animal expert Jack Hanna. Nightfall was a factor.

“The right thing was done,” he said. “You can’t tranquilize animals in the dark. People wanted to know why we couldn’t do that – you can’t do that. You tranquilize an animal in the dark – that’s like setting a stick of dynamite off.”

Muskingum County Sheriff Matthew Lutz finished a news conference where he addressed the magnitude of this problem.

Sheriff Lutz said they were dealing with a total of 56 animals.

“Those numbers included 48 of which are now deceased,” he said. “There are 48 animals that we had to put down.”

Of those 48 animals, one wolf, eight bears, 20 lions, one baboon and 18 tigers were buried on the property.

Six were taken to the Columbus Zoo.

The Sheriff of Muskingum County no longer believes any animals are running at large.

He says there is a monkey still unaccounted for, but he says odds are the monkey was eaten by one of the cats.

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