Zoo owner sets animals free, then kills self
ZANESVILLE, Ohio (KABC) -- Authorities said Wednesday that the owner of a wild-animal preserve in Ohio set exotic animals free before killing himself.
Lions, tigers, bears and cheetahs were on the prowl in and around Zanesville, as residents cowered indoors. Flashing signs along highways warned motorists, "Caution exotic animals" and "Stay in vehicle."
Officers in the mostly rural area about 55 miles east of Columbus were under orders to shoot to kill for fear that animals hit with tranquilizer darts would run off and hide in the darkness.
After an all-night hunt, police say nearly 50 animals, including 18 rare bengal tigers and 17 lions, were gunned down.
Six animals were captured and transferred to the Columbus Zoo.
Authorities say the owner of the preserve, Terry Thompson, killed himself, but left no suicide note.
Jack Hanna, former director of the Columbus Zoo and a nationally known wild animal expert, defended the sheriff against criticism that the animals should have been captured alive.
"What was he to do at nighttime with tigers and lions, leopards, going out there?" Hanna said. "In the wild this would be a different situation."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
animal news, national news
- Fast food workers protest, want $15 an hour
- US teacher killed in Benghazi: officials
- The Game raises money for family of slain boy
- Motorcycle officer struck by hit-run driver
- 2 deputies OK after crash on West 105 Freeway
- LA council OKs restrictions on e-cig sellers
- Cold snap moving across Southern California
- Idaho school bus crash: 1 child killed, 4 hurt 4 min ago
- Bratton picked as NYPD commissioner again
- Stolen truck with radioactive load found
- abcnews: Teen saved after swallowing magnets
- Manhattan Toy Quixel baby rattles recalled 19 min ago
- Paul Walker autopsy results released
- OTRC: Beyonce posts bikini pics, goes on vegan diet