Exotic animals escape Ohio farm, owner found dead

October 21, 2011 - 6:26 PM

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Dozens of animals escaped Tuesday from an exotic farm that houses bears, big cats and other beasts, and the owner later was found dead there, said police, who shot several of the animals and urged nearby residents to stay indoors.

The fences had been left unsecured at the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, in east-central Ohio, police said.

They wouldn't say what animals escaped but said the farm had lions, wolves, tigers, giraffes, camels and bears. They said bears and wolves were among 25 animals that had been shot and killed and there were multiple sightings of exotic animals along Interstate 70.

WBNS-TV in Columbus reported (http://bit.ly/q93F3p) the body of the farm's owner, Terry Thompson, was found Tuesday evening outside his home on the farm property.

Staffers from the Columbus Zoo were on the scene hoping to tranquilize and capture the animals.

Sheriff Matt Lutz said people should stay indoors and he might ask for local schools to close Wednesday. He said his main concern was protecting the public.

"Any kind of cat species or bear species is what we are concerned about," Lutz said. "We don't know how much of a head start these animals have on us."

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Information from: WBNS-TV, http://www.10tv.com/