One of the killed animal escapees is the African lion photographed near the Muskingum County Animal Farm.
Dozens of animals escaped Tuesday [October 18, 2011] from an exotic farm that houses bears, big cats and other beasts. The owner later was found dead there, said police, who shot several of the animals and urged nearby residents to stay indoors.
The fences had been left unsecured at the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, in east-central Ohio, police said.
They wouldn’t say what animals escaped but said the farm had lions, wolves, tigers, giraffes, camels and bears. Officials noted that bears, lions, and wolves are among 25 animals that had been shot and killed.
There have been multiple sightings of exotic animals along Interstate 70.
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz speaks to the media about exotic animals loose in Zanesville, Ohio. (Trevor Jones / AP Photo / October 18, 2011)
WBNS-TV in Columbus reported the body of the farm’s owner, Terry Thompson, was found Tuesday evening outside his home on the farm property. ABC News is reporting Wednesday morning that authorities have declared the death a suicide.
Four deputies with assault rifles in a pickup truck went to the animal farm, where they found the farm’s owner, Terry Thompson, dead and all the animal cage doors open. He wouldn’t say how Thompson died but said several aggressive animals were near his body and had to be shot.
Thompson, who lived on the property, had orangutans and chimps in cages in his home, but they were still in their cages, Lutz said.
The deputies, who saw many animals standing outside their cages and others that had escaped past the fencing surrounding the property, began shooting them. There had been no reports of injuries among the public.
Staffers from the Columbus Zoo were on the scene hoping to tranquilize and capture the animals.
Sheriff Matt Lutz said people should stay indoors and he might ask for local schools to close Wednesday. He said his main concern was protecting the public.
“Any kind of cat species or bear species is what we are concerned about,” Lutz said. “We don’t know how much of a head start these animals have on us.”
Needless to say, cryptozoologists must follow stories like this and others about seemingly out-of-context weird animals, errant “crazy crocs,” and alleged “circus train wrecks” to attempt to account for feral out-of-place and escaped animals that may mistakenly be reported as cryptids. ~ Loren