Authorities gave a press conference Thursday (Oct. 20) as a follow-up to the previous day’s press conference with more information regarding the escaped wild animals in Muskingum County, OH.
Terry Thompson, the owner of the animals, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His body was found in the driveway, though Sheriff Matthew Lutz says it appears his body was dragged a bit after he was dead. They also believe the animals escaped because Thompson opened their cages before taking his own life.
There were 56 exotic animals being kept on the farm. Of those, 49 have been killed, either by authorities or by each other – two wolves, six black bears, two grizzly bears, nine male lions, eight female lions, one baboon, three mountain lions and 18 Bengal tigers. Six animals were able to be transported to the Columbus Zoo – one grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys. One monkey is still unaccounted for, but authorities believe it was killed by one of the large cats.
Lutz says the captured animals are doing well. They are eating and active at the zoo and being carefully monitored.
Jack Hanna (pictured above), the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, spoke at the earlier press conference about the tragic situation.
“I’m sorry for what happened to these animals. But also for what could
have happened to people. Let’s hope this never has to happen again in
any state. This is a tragedy for the animal world,” says Hanna. “If we had 18 Bengal tigers running around in these woods, you wouldn’t have wanted to see what would have happened … What was done had to be done.”
The deceased animals were buried on the farm at Hanna’s recommendation and the request of Thompson’s wife. Sheriff Lutz says Thompson’s wife is obviously very upset and is handling the situation as well as she can.