A day after Ohio authorities killed dozens of exotic animals had been released from their cages by their owner, who was found dead at his farm, police detailed how the man died. Terry Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and sometime later, a tiger bit his head.

Yesterday's chaotic chase in Zanesville, Ohio for escaped exotic animals in the rain resulted in Muskingum County sheriff’s deputies killing tigers, bears, lions and monkeys. The Columbus Dispatch described how one neighbor discovered the animals while walking with his horse:

First he spied what he figured was the cause of the horses’ distress: a lone black bear in the neighboring field.

He calmed his own horse and said he wasn’t terribly concerned because the black bear was pretty far away.

Then he saw a huge male lion about 30 feet away on the other side of the simple wire fence that divided his property from his neighbor’s.

Kopchak, 64, said he carefully — but quickly — led his horse toward the barn. As he stepped inside, he looked back.

That’s when he saw a tiger chasing the horses next door and a lioness pacing the fence line.

Kopchak slammed the barn door shut, pulled out his cellphone and called his mother.

“I told her, ‘We’ve got a serious problem. Call 911. All the animals are out.’"

Muskingum County sheriff's deputies were criticized for killing and not tranquilizing the animals, but Sheriff Matt Lutz said his deputies didn't have tranquilizers. According to the NY Times, when one vet tried to shoot a 300-pound tiger with a tranquilizer gun, the tiger went crazy and the animal had to be put down. Lutz siad, "We understand there are people frustrated, disappointed and mad. We are [too]."

Six animals—three leopards, two monkeys and a bear— that were able to be rounded up were taken to the Columbus Zoo, where they are reportedly "settling in." Zoo veterinarian Dr. Gwen Myers told the Dispatch, "We will not enter any of these pens with these animals unless they’re under anesthesia. There are challenges with knowing the temperament and behavior. We don’t know the ages, health status, whether they were born with defects or inherited any diseases." The AP has video of the survivors:


The Humane Society of the United States, which doesn't blame the sheriff's department for killing the animals, issued a statement criticizing Ohio for its lax laws regarding exotic animals. Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle said:

How many incidents must we catalogue before the state takes action to crack down on private ownership of dangerous exotic animals, In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries because the state hasn’t exhibited the foresight to stop private citizens from keeping dangerous wild animals as pets or as roadside attractions, and the situation gets more surreal with every new incident, including this mass escape or release of large animals in Muskingum County. Local authorities are now spending enormous resources on personnel, helicopters, infrared, and equipment chasing down and killing free-roaming exotic animals in order to protect public safety. It’s the Wild West, and the empty promises, the delaying, and dilly dallying has to end now.