Wild Animals Loose

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 2:48pm

School are closed and motorists are warned to stay in vehicles while officers patroll a rural area in Ohio.

It's been a gruesome round-up overnight and into the day for deputies, ever since 9 o'clock Tuesday night, when they discovered menagerie mayhem.

"When our officers arrived on the scene we had approximately had one hour to one hour and a half of daylight,” said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz.

As officers got out of their cruisers there were animals running loose outside of the fenced area.

"It's like Noah's ark wrecking right here in Zanesville, Ohio," said wildlife expert Jack Hanna.

The animals included Bengal tigers, leopards, lions , wolves, bears and monkeys.

Schools in the area are closed and warning signs are on roads.

The sheriff's department says the owner of the farm, Terry Thompson, released them all, and even disabled the cages to make sure they couldn't be used again.

Then Thompson committed suicide.

"I honestly believe he felt he didn’t need to live anymore and it's sad and it disheartens me,” said neighbor David Bradley.

But the sheriff says his department had received dozens of complaints from neighbors about the wild animals over the last seven years.

And once they were out, the sheriff says there was just no way to take them back in alive.

"We are not talking about your normal, everyday house cat or dog these are 300 pound Bengal tigers that we have had to put down," said Sheriff Lutz.

“A wild animal is like a loaded gun, They can go off at any time . I know some animal rights folks are going to go nuts over this - that's fine they can do all they want too, but the sheriff did the right thing,” said Hanna.

Authorities say Thompson had the necessary permits to own the animals but they did not find a suicide note.

So we might never know if releasing them was meant to be a final act of kindness -- or cruelty.

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