Sheriff: Owner Had Bite To Head, Possibly From Bengal Tiger
ZANESVILLE, Ohio (KDKA) — Authorities released some new details today following the death of an animal farm owner in Zanesville, Ohio, and the escape of dozens of exotic animals from the facility.
According to the sheriff in Muskingum County during a press conference Thursday morning, farm owner Terry Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The sheriff reports that Thompson was also found with a bite to his head consistent with that of the bite of a Bengal tiger. It reportedly happened within seconds after the gunshot wound.
“It has been confirmed through the autopsy, the doctor believes that Mr. Thompson did die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Sheriff Matt Lutz. “I do want to release that Mr. Thompson did have a bite wound to his head area that the doctor said would be consistent with the bite from a larger-type cat or tiger, or Bengal tiger.”
Also during the press conference, authorities released aerial photos of the property where the animals escaped.
Meanwhile, the active search for the animals has been halted.
Late into Wednesday evening, it was believed that an escaped monkey, which was carrying the Herpes B virus was still on the loose; however, Sheriff Lutz says he believes the unaccounted for monkey was likely eaten by one of the big cats.
Thompson is believed to have opened the cages for the animals before his death.
He was reportedly known to police who received complaint calls about the animal farm. Thompson had also spent a year in prison on federal firearms violations. He was released last month.
Following the escape of the animals, authorities in Zanesville were order to shoot and kill the escaped exotic animals.
Officials say that nearly 50 animals were killed during the ordeal, including lions, wolves, bears and tigers. A few of the animals though, including a grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys, were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.