A Zanesville, Ohio, man let out dozens of wild animals – including big cats, bears, and wolves – before killing himself Tuesday night.
According to reports, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said law enforcement officials arrived at an exotic animal farm to find the owner, Terry Thompson, dead of apparent suicide, his body “bothered” by several animals nearby.
Assault rifles in hand, officials were given shoot-to-kill orders, killing 25 animals while residents were urged to stay indoors and nearby schools closed.
A wolf and a bear were also reportedly killed on nearby Interstate 70.
After switching to tranquilizers Wednesday, Lutz said authorities are still searching for three animals: a mountain lion, a grizzly bear and a monkey.
Lutz said the incident began at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when calls came in reporting wild animals on the loose west of Zanesville.
UPDATE: Oct. 20 at 2:00 p.m. EST
The reports out of Zanesville now have a total of 49 wild animals being gunned down by police with pistols and high-powered rifles. The exotic “pets” were moving toward residential neighborhoods causing officers to insist some 25,000 residents stay indoors.
According to the county sheriff, there is now only one missing animal in the bunch after authorities took down 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, a pair of grizzlies, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon.
For now, the last animal to be rounded up is a monkey that may have had a herpes virus, though, it is suspected to have been eaten by one of the large cats.
For good measure, we took a look at what it might cost to legally hunt this mixed bag of critters. Here’s the official Petersen’s Hunting estimate:
-18 Bengal Tigers (if you could hunt them): $250,ooo each/$4.5 million total
-17 Lions in Africa: $50,000 each/$850,000 total
-6 Black Bears: $3,500 each/$21,000 total
-2 Grizzly Bears: $15,000 each/$30,000 total
-3 Mountain Lions: $3,500 each/$8,500 total
-2 Wolves $2,000 each/ $4,000 total
Grand total: $5,413,500 for the 49-animal hunt
The debate now rages as to how the animals were dispatched. Some say they could have been tranquilized and housed in a local zoo. The officers involved say different. These small town law men are claiming these animals were extremely dangerous and it would have been impossible to tranquilize without risking injury or death.
Our question is what do you think?