An incredibly bizarre and tragic story continues to evolve in Ohio. Terry Thompson had an exotic animal farm in Zanesville, Ohio where he kept at least 56 creatures, including bears, lions, mountain lions, cheetahs and tigers. On Tuesday evening, Thompson opened the animals’ cages then committed suicide.
Police officers reported putting down 48 of the animals, including 18 Bengali tigers (some of the rarest in the world) and 17 tigers. Six animals were captured and taken into the zoo. Officers decided against tranquilizing the animals because it was approaching nighttime and they feared the animals would flee into the woods where the sedatives would wear off. Just one wolf and a monkey remain unaccounted for.
A picture posted to Twitter shows the carnage:
One highway sign read “Caution Exotic Animals. Stay in Vehicle. Call 911 If Seen.” Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz described the animals as “mature, very big, aggressive” and called public safety “my No. 1 concern.” Noted animal expert Jack Hanna defended the actions of the police, but was deeply saddened by the loss of the tigers in particular.
“When I heard 18 I was still in disbelief,” Hanna said. “The most magnificent creature in the entire world, the tiger is.” Here’s video of the most recent press conference.
What a shame.