Preserve owner bit by tiger after fatally shooting self

Preserve owner bit by tiger after fatally shooting self

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ZANESVILLE, OH (WOIO) -

Relief after the release of more than 50 exotic animals from a private farm in Muskingum County - every animal has been captured or killed.

The animals owner, Terry Thompson, opened the cages of 56 exotic animals Tuesday evening before committing suicide. Six animals did not get out of their cages, and are now at the Columbus Zoo. The surviving animals include three leopards, one young grizzly bear and two monkeys.

48 animals were shot and killed by deputies and officers, and one monkey was eaten by a large cat.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said that his deputies were not armed with tranquilizers and ordered them to shoot the animals - some at close range - because they posed a threat to the community.

The coroner tells 19 Action News Terry Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Thompson had a bite wound to the head, that is consistent with a tiger bite. The coroner tells 19 Action News the bite happened seconds to minutes after the self-inflicted gunshot wound.

List of dead animals:

  • 2 Wolves
  • 6 Black Bears
  • 2 Grizzly Bears
  • 9 Lions
  • 8 Lionessess
  • 1 Baboon
  • 3 Mountain Lions
  • 18 Bengal Tigers

Officials say all of the dead animals were buried on Thompson's farm, including a 300-pound Bengal tiger, grizzly bear and mountain lion.

Muskingum County Sheriff Department has handled numerous complaints from the preserve in the past.

Well-known animal expert and Columbus Zoo director emeritus, Jack Hanna helped with the hunt.  Hanna says he has received a lot of complaints from animal groups, criticizing the police on shooting and killing some of the animals.  Hanna says law enforcement had to do what they had to do to protect human life.

Hanna has been very vocal on the state's animal laws. "I will do anything I can over my dead body to put these people out of business, to shut these auctions down," said Hanna.

He went on to say he doesn't want to shut everyone down. There are good breeders out there.

Ohio has no rules regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals. Hanna says he talked with the governor's office Wednesday and plans to meet with Governor John Kasich to talk about stricter animal laws.  

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