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Lions and Tigers and Bears and Cheetahs and Wolves and More on the Loose in Ohio -- Oh My!

In Zanesville, Ohio today, several schools districts have been closed and motorists are being warned to stay in their vehicles by flashing highway signs that read, "Caution exotic animals" and "Stay in vehicle." Meanwhile, more than 50 law enforcement officials, including sheriff's deputies, highway patrol officers, police officers and officers from the state Division of Wildlife, spent Tuesday night patrolling the grounds of a 40-acre farm and were forced to shoot and kill nearly 30 lions, bears, tigers, cheetahs and wolves that escaped from a wild animal preserve on the Muskingum County Animal Farm.

The Associated Press reports that the craziness in Zanesville began Tuesday night when the owner of the farm, Terry Thompson, apparently opened the cages that held the dangerous animals, left the fences unsecured, and then committed suicide. Police stated that Thompson had recently gotten out of jail.

Officials warned this morning that only 30 of the 48 animals had been hunted down, and expressed concern that big cats and bears might be hiding in the dark and in trees. Police reported numerous sightings of "exotic animals" along a nearby highway, and one big cat was struck by a vehicle on the highway. “These are wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa,” Sheriff Matt Lutz stated.

The director of a local zoo explained that using tranquilizer guns Tuesday night was not an option as the animals would have simply gone off and hid in the dark, and that the police decision to shoot the animals was appropriate. The police's "shoot-to-kill" order on the animals was lifted this morning

The AP reports that Ohio has "some of the nation’s weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them."

Posted by Bruce Carton on October 19, 2011 at 01:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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