Monkey still not found; most other wildlife had to be shot

UPDATE

One animal on the property remains unaccounted for, but Muskingum County Sheriff Matthew Lutz said there is a high probability the monkey has been destroyed by one of the large cats on the property.

“Odds are high that the monkey was gotten by one of the cats,” he said.

Lutz said the monkey was last seen was in the same area where the wild cats destroyed another monkey.

According to Lutz, there were a total of 56 animals on the Zanesville property. A total of 48 animals were shot by deputies. One (a monkey) appears to have been destroyed by a cat. Six animals were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo, where they are reportedly doing well, eating and are active. They are being checked by veterinarians there.

Lutz said the animals destroyed by law enforcement include two wolves, six black bears, two grizzly bears, 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, one baboon and three mountain lions.

The animals were buried on the farm at the request of Marion Thompson, the wife of Terry Thompson.
There have been no human tragedies and no reports of property or livestock damage.

Lutz said he could not speculate on why Thompson took his life and released the animals.

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ZANESVILLE, Ohio — Only two animals appear to be unaccounted for after the owner of an animal sanctuary reportedly opened the cages and shot himself, according to Muskingum County Sheriff Matthew Lutz.

A monkey and a wolf remain loose in Muskingum County near Zanesville.

The exact color of the wolf is not known. It reportedly resembles a dog but is not tame and is considered dangerous.

The monkey has not been spotted yet but is likely to be bedded down due to the rain.

The mountain lion and bear that were unaccounted for at the 10 a.m. press conference were found shot to death this afternoon.

Lutz said the sheriff’s department started receiving calls about wild animals near roadways around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

The department went to the farm where the animals were housed. When deputies arrived, they found the owner, Terry Thompson, deceased from a self-inflicted wound. A suicide note has not been found.

Lutz said it appears Thompson released the animals at some point by opening the gates of their pens.

He added that there were pens along the outside of the house on the property. In addition, monkeys and chimpanzees were inside the house in pens.

There were between 48-51 wild animals on the property, including camels, lions, mountain lions, Bengal tigers, leopards, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, monkeys and chimpanzees. Horses were also found on the property, and Lutz said he believes some people were boarding their horses there as well. None of them were injured in the incident.

Lutz said when the sheriff’s deputies realized the animals were loose, they were forced to begin shooting them.

“These are not the average house cat. They are 300-pound Bengal tigers,” said Lutz.

Some escaped to Interstate 70 and were spotted by motorists.

As of this morning, one large wild cat from the sanctuary was hit by a motorist. The Ohio State Highway Patrol was handling the crash, according to Lutz.

The Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department is recovering the dead animals and taking a count to try to determine exactly how many wild animals were kept on the property.

Lutz said some sightings have also been reported in neighboring Licking County, but law enforcement have not spotted any animals there.

When asked whether the animal sanctuary has been a problem in the past, Lutz confirmed it has been, with the department receiving more than 30 calls about it in the past few years.

“It’s been a huge problem for us for a lot of years,” said Lutz.

Jack Hanna, of the Columbus Zoo, described the scene for reporters at a 10 a.m. news conference.

“It’s like Noah’s Ark wrecking here in Zanesville, Ohio,” said Hanna.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is also helping with the matter, along with the Emergency Management Agency and employees of The Wilds in that county.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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