Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sheriff’s deputies shoot 48 wild animals

Investigators walk around a barn as carcasses lay on the ground at The Muskingum County Animal Farm Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, in Zanesville, Ohio. Police with assault rifles stalked a mountain lion, grizzly bear and monkey still on the loose after authorities said their owner apparently freed dozens of wild animals and then killed himself. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

In a Tuesday Oct. 18, 2011 photo, a dead lion lays by the fence on Terry Thompson's farm near Zanesville, Ohio. Police killed dozens of animals Tuesday that escaped from the wild-animal preserve where the owner's body later was found. Warning that more animals still were on the loose, officials expected up to four school districts to cancel classes as the remaining bears, big cats and other beasts from the Muskingum County Animal Farm were hunted down. (AP Photo/Heather Ellers and Dustin Burton)

Zanesville Times Recorder

" ... Zanesville, Ohio • Sheriff’s deputies shot nearly 50 wild animals — including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions — in a big-game hunt across the Ohio countryside Wednesday after the owner of an exotic-animal park threw their cages open and committed suicide in what appeared to be one last act of spite against his neighbors and police.

As homeowners nervously hid indoors, officers equipped with high-powered rifles and shoot-to-kill orders spread out through fields and woods to hunt down about 56 animals that had been set loose from the Muskingum County Animal Farm by its owner, Terry Thompson, before he shot himself to death Tuesday.

After an all-night hunt that extended into Wednesday afternoon, 48 animals had been killed and six captured alive and taken to the Columbus Zoo, authorities said. The only animals believed still on the loose were a wolf and a monkey.

Those destroyed included six black bears, two grizzlies, a baboon and three mountain lions.

Jack Hanna, TV personality and former director of the Columbus Zoo, defended the sheriff’s decision to kill the animals, but said the deaths of the Bengal tigers were especially tragic. There are only about 1,400 of the endangered cats left in the world, he said.

"When I heard 18 I was still in disbelief," Hanna said. "The most magnificent creature in the entire world, the tiger is."

As the hunt dragged on outside of Zanesville, population 25,000, schools closed in the mostly rural area of farms and widely spaced homes 55 miles east of Columbus. Parents were warned to keep children and pets indoors. And flashing signs along highways told motorists, "Caution exotic animals" and "Stay in vehicle."..."

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