The most exciting thing to happen to Zanesville, Ohio, like, ever has ended in the tragic massacre of dozens of exotic predators, all of whom escaped into heavy rains last night from a local resident's private, 73-acre reserve. With the lifeless body of that man, Terry Thompson (pictured), lying near their open cages, and no arks docked in nearby Lake Erie, it left something of a mystery as to what exactly had happened.
By late Wednesday, local sheriff's department officers and SWAT teams had killed or captured all but one of the animals, in a collection which included bears, lions, wolves, monkeys and 18 rare Bengal tigers. One rogue monkey remains on the loose.
Thompson had died from a gunshot to the head, which police are saying was self-inflicted — his final act after freeing the zoo's worth of creatures he'd collected with his wife over the years. Thompson was released from federal prison three weeks ago after serving a year for possession of illegal firearms, and was reportedly agitated over his wife leaving him. Still, why he'd release these animals, who he supposedly loved more than anything, to a certain death leaves everyone scratching their heads: "It's just terrible," Sheriff Matt Lutz told the New York Times. "These killings were senseless. It was nonsense. It was crazy."
In all, 49 of the 56 animals were killed, the majority of them wandering not further than a few hundred feet from their pens. Six more — three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys — were shot with tranquilizer darts and sent to the Columbus Zoo, where they are currently in quarantine.
You can hear two 911 calls, made by locals who spotted a lion and bear roaming around the neighborhood, above. They sound more put out than terrified. The photo of the massacre at the top of the page was sent to us by a local resident.
Update: Police say they believe the missing monkey is dead and was likely eaten by one of the escaped cats.