Exotic Animals on the Loose in Zanesville, Ohio

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Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! These animals were roaming neighborhoods in Zanesville, Ohio after being released from an exotic pet farm owned and operated by Terry Thompson. Thompson was found dead on the grounds of the farm. Police are investigating the cause of his death. Law enforcement had come to the farm after reports of exotic animal sightings, and they found Thompson.

Tuesday night a shoot to kill order was given on the loose animals. At daybreak today that order has been removed as law enforcement and other officials assisting can now tranquilize the animals for transfer.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said that 30-35 animals were accounted for, and that law enforcement had killed 25 animals. The residents in the area were told to remain indoors for their safety and schools were closed on Wednesday. There may be a dozen or more animals still unaccounted for. From Fox31 Denver.


numbnutz's picture

This is a pretty interesting

This is a pretty interesting story for sure. I'm glad no one was hurt and all the animals were accounted for. I think law enforcement did the right thing by putting the animals down. I'm very curious to know how the owner died, if it was an animal attack or homiside or natural causes. I'm very surprised the state didn't shut this farm down sooner giving the track record it had. I don't know what I'd say if I was driving around and an exotic animal like these ran out infront of me or if I was sitting on my sofa and a lion was hanging out in my front yard. I'd probably think I was still sleeping or something. Anyways I'm glad everything worked out and no one got hurt. It was a good desision to shut down the schools for safety.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Actually Numb, they had a 911

Actually Numb, they had a 911 call this morning and some guy called in.  He stated that he was driving on whatever road, and he just saw a lion standing under a streetlight.  He must have thought he was falling asleep or something. lol

SGM's picture

Intresting read for sure.

Intresting read for sure. Glad no one was injuried with these animals running loose. Pretty sad these animals had to be put down. After reading the full story it seems to me these critters should have been taken from this guy a long time ago. Eleven counts of animal cruilty and he still had them, just does not seem right. How would you like to be the driver that hit the big cat? What a story that would be that you hit a tiger or lion while driving home from work. I bet when they called the insurance company they thought the drive was nuts. 

Retired2hunt's picture

All Accounted For


The update to this is that all animals are now accounted for.  The one monkey remaining at large was found to have been killed by one of the big cats.

I absolutely think the police did the right thing in exterminating the loose animals.  Even the Humane Society officials stated that "we think they did their job".  If police officials waited to have the appropriate trained people in place to capture live these animals there would have been a disaster - a human mauling or worse.

Now with the multiple issues over the years with this exotic farm owner I don't know why the state of Ohio didn't shut him down sooner.  They state provided that he met the minimal requirements.  I would think having so many reoccurances it would be appropriate to shut him down regardless. 

I am certain that there is more to this story.  It is tragic that the guy took his own life after letting these animals loose but somebody had to have had known he was suicidal and all of this loss could have been prevented - human and animal.



hunter25's picture

A very strange and intersting

A very strange and intersting thing here. I had heard about it on th eradio but didn't get the full details and it looks like some of them they did give were off a bit as they had far more than 30 animals having been shot so far. Hopefully they can peacefully capture and account for the rest with nobody getting hurt or any more of them having to be shot. Sounds like the guy had an awful lot of them that would be qualified as danderous game.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Yeah, this is pretty

Yeah, this is pretty interesting.  I posted it a little earlier in the regular forums, and I brought up a point. Can the Ohio hunters that are out there for archery season legally shoot any of these animals?  I know in alot of states, if they are considered a non-game animal, they can be shot without a tag.  So, the giraffe, camel, tiger, etc., if they had gotten out, what's the deal?

I know the local police had issued a shoot to kill order for their officers, just not sure how it affects regular hunting.  I assume the species that were there that are protected, like the wolves, grizzly bear, and mountain lion would be covered under law, but not the rest.

Interesting to see the concentration of these types of preserves there.  I guess Ohio has one of the least restrictive laws regulating them.  I also wonder how this guy, after being charged many, many times over the years, was allowed to keep these animals.

Glad to see nobody got hurt.  Sorry that the animals had to be put down, and it's unfortunate that this guy felt he had to do this prior to taking his own life.  At least they were able to save a few of the animals.