A literal horde of exotic animals were on the loose in Ohio after escaping from a private preserve where the owner, Terry Thompson, was found dead, police said Tuesday night.
Although details of how the animals escaped are unclear at this time, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said his office started receiving reports of wild creatures on the run at about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Responding to the phone-ins, Lutz said four deputies armed with assault rifles arrived at the private zoo, where they found the owner, Terry Thompson, dead and all the animal cage doors open. He wouldn't say how Thompson died but said several aggressive animals were near his body when deputies arrived and had to be shot.
Among the escaped animals were cheetahs and wolves, in addition to the lions, tigers and bears, local authorities said. On orders from Lutz, at least 30 of the animals were shot and killed Tuesday night, but several remain on the loose.
"These are exotic animals that are mostly seen on TV in Africa," Lutz warned residents at a press conference.Police were patrolling the 40-acre farm and its surroundings, and schools in the area were closed for Wednesday.
Additionally, staffers from the Columbus Zoo were on the scene Wednesday, hoping to tranquilize and capture the escaped animals after daybreak, something the zoo's director emeritus, TV host Jack Hanna, said was not possible in the dark.
"You cannot tranquilize an animal like this, a bear or a leopard or a tiger [at nighttime]," Hanna told ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday. "If you do that, the animal gets very excited, it goes and hides, and then we have his [Lutz's] officers in danger of losing their life, and other people."via LA TimesImage: Jumanji