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Monkey Still Unaccounted For Near Zanesville; Wolf Body Recovered
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A lone monkey remains unaccounted for in Muskingum County after it and a menagerie of bears, bigcats and a wolf were uncaged near Zanesville. Sheriff Matt Lutz says the owner of nearly 50 exotic animals released them before he apparently committed suicide.
Sheriff Lutz says the first sign of trouble came in a 9-1-1 call near dusk last night.
“Yes this is Mrs. Kopchak on Kopchak road. We live next to Terry Thompson and there’s a bear and lion out.”
For years, Terry Thompson legally kept exotic animals on his farm just west of Zanesville. A second emergency call rang into the sheriff’s office. The dispatcher told the caller deputies were on their way to the scene. Lutz says the first responding officers were confronted by lions, tigers, a grizzly bear, a wolf.
” I had deputies that had to shoot animals with their sidearms at close range. That’s how volatile this situation was.” Lutz says. “We are not talking about your normal everyday housecat or dog, these are 300 pound Bengal tigers that we hd to put down.”
Lutz says more than 40 animals were shot and killed within hours. But, first reports indicated a mountain lion and a grizzly bear were on the loose. Dawnielle Davis lives near Thompson’s farm.
“I was kind of scared. I have three babies at home.”
Davis says she kept her family inside through much of the day today until most all of the animals were accounted for. At the West side market on Route 40, Steve Tetak, bantered with the cashier. He described himself as a big game hunter…like deer. Tetak expressed little fear about exotic animals on the loose. He says most of the community is probably disgusted.
“Well, I would say downright they’re really probably a little bit disgusted. I mean I am. Its not fair to the animals. They didn’t do nothing to deserve to be in the cage to start with let alone turned loose to be shot. I’d say people are really disgusted but everybody just tries to keep a stiff upper lip, I think, ’cause of the economy. Everybody keeps putting things off and trying to act like it doesn’t matter, you know, where life goes on.”
Some of the primates at the exotic animal compound were taken to the Columbus Zoo.
Zoo Director Emeritus Jack Hanna was at the scene in Muskingum county. Hanna is well known for his advocacy for big animals. But, today, he was quick to defend the deputies’ action.
“How would you like to pull up as a police officer last night, getting dark, and pulling up there and seeing bears, lions, tigers everything coming down the road I mean what would you do. Some of these guys, as the sheriff said, had to use firearms. This is terrible I know. But, these are human beings, see them all right here, these are human beings that live here, a mile away from the whole scene. We;re just lucky, thank the lord that no one’s lost their life.”
Earlier in the day, Hanna said it was like Noah’s Ark wrecked in Zanesville.