PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Late Wednesday, the Muskingum County Sheriff said he believed none of the animals that escaped from the animal farm in Zanesville, Ohio, were still on the loose.
Earlier, it was thought a monkey carrying the herpes B virus was still at large, but now Sheriff Matt Lutz thinks the animal was eaten by one of the cats.
Owner Terry Thompson is believed to have opened the cages for the animals and then shot and killed himself. He left no note.
Schools were closed and there was no mail delivery, as authorities were on order to shoot and kill the exotic animals.
KDKA’s David Highfield reports:
Animal expert Jack Hanna says it’s a tragedy but there was no other choice.
Nearly 50 animals were killed, including bears, lions, wolves and 18 tigers.
A few of the animals, including a grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo.
“Having any exotic animal is a dangerous thing to do; it just has to be done responsibly,” said Adam Guiher, of the Living Treasures Animal Park. “You have to understand what it takes to house them, the extra safety precautions you have to take. We have contact policies as far as what employees are allowed to be in what areas.”
KDKA’s Brenda Waters reports:
Thompson’s fascination with exotic animals reportedly began in the late 70’s when he bought his wife a lion cub.
He was known to police who received complaint calls about the animal farm. He had also just spent a year in prison on federal firearms violations. He was released last month.
The sheriff won’t speculate as to why Thompson may have done this, but a neighbor thinks it was to get back at neighbors and the police.