Owner Freed Wild Animals Before Suicide

56 escaped and 48 were killed; wolf and monkey still at large
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2011 12:41 PM CDT
Updated Oct 19, 2011 2:35 PM CDT
Animal Farm Owner Terry Thompson Deliberately Freed Exotic Animals Before Killing Himself
A sign warning motorists that exotic animals are on the loose rests on I-70 Wednesday near Zanesville, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(Newser) – The wild animals on the loose in Ohio had a hand with freeing themselves. Terry Thompson, 62, owner of the 46-acre animal farm, deliberately released 56 animals from their cages last night before killing himself, police say. More developments:

  • Only a monkey (with herpes) and a wolf remain at large somewhere around Zanesville, Ohio, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
  • Authorities killed 48 of the animals, reports the AP. "Public safety was my No. 1 concern," says the local sheriff. "I gave the order that if the animals looked like they were going to get out, they were going down."
  • Among the animals that escaped were 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, and eight bears.

story continues below

  • As for Thompson, the sheriff says his death was caused by a gunshot wound, and that animals "bothered" his body.
  • Thompson apparently also sliced the cages' wire, which the Dispatch says would allow the animals to flee once again, should they be returned to their cages.
  • "It's like Noah's ark, like, wrecking right here in Zanesville, Ohio," says former Columbus Zoo chief Jack Hanna. "Noah's ark filled with tigers and lions and all leopards and a few monkeys and whatever, and it crashes here and all of a sudden they're out there." (Hanna defended the decision to kill the animals and called for tougher restrictions on such animal farms.)
  • Thompson had been released from prison only three weeks ago after serving a one-year term for firearms violations. Neighbors had long complained about him being lax with security.
(Read more wild animals stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.