Muskingum County Animal Farm

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Muskingum County Animal Farms
Date closed October 2011
Location Muskingum County, Ohio, United States
Coordinates 39°56′48″N 82°03′45″W / 39.9466772°N 82.0625522°W / 39.9466772; -82.0625522Coordinates: 39°56′48″N 82°03′45″W / 39.9466772°N 82.0625522°W / 39.9466772; -82.0625522
Not to be confused with The Wilds.

Muskingum County Animal Farm was a private zoo located in Zanesville, Ohio, United States.

The zoo received world-wide attention on October 19, 2011, when dozens of exotic animals were released from their enclosures.[1] Bears, lions, tigers, and wolves were among those who escaped, and were hunted by local law enforcement out of fear for public safety. The animals were killed or captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.[2] Owner Terry Thompson set free fifty-six of his exotic animals before shooting himself in the head. Forty-eight were killed by the local police.[3][4] The animals freed included lions, leopards, wolves, primates, bears,[5][6] and eighteen tigers.[4] The animals confirmed to be dead were the eighteen tigers, six black bears, two grizzlies, two wolves, one macaque monkey, one baboon, three mountain lions, nine male lions, and eight lionesses.[4] Three leopards, one grizzly bear, and two monkeys were left caged inside Thompson's home. These animals were tranquilized and sent to the Columbus Zoo.[2] One of the surviving leopards was subsequently injured in an accident at the zoo and was euthanized.[7] One monkey was eaten by a tiger, and a wolf was killed after being hit by a car.[8]

The animal farm had been repeatedly reported for inadequate and unsafe housing for the animals, as well as insufficient water and food.[9]

Terry Thompson[edit]

Terry Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran, was a lifelong collector of exotic animals. In the years leading up to his suicide he went to prison on federal gun charges, was heavily in debt, and his wife had left him; he may also have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.[10] He had acted as an animal handler on The Rachael Ray Show in 2008, and provided a lion cub to a photoshoot with Heidi Klum.[11]


Jack Hanna, TV wildlife expert and Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, lamented the killings but deemed the police actions necessary.[12] Ohio governor John Kasich called for a temporary moratorium on the sale of exotic animals.[13] In August 2012, Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a documentary on the animal release called 'America's Animal Hoarder: Horror at the Zoo", featuring footage of Thompson's animals and interviews with those who brought the situation under control.[14] Animal Planet released an episode of "Fatal Attractions" on Thompson's conflict and suicide.


  1. ^ "Dono de zoológico particular em Ohio solta animais e depois se mata". Yahoo!Noticias. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Bears, tigers, lions and wolves escape from Ohio zoo". (BBC). 19 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Muskal, Michael (January 18, 2012). "Ohio farmer spoke of troubles before freeing exotic animals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Leckrone, Jim (19 October 2011). "Freed tigers, lions and bears cause panic in Ohio". Reuters. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Owner of exotic animal preserve known for guns, run-ins with law". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  6. ^ "Ohio sheriff: Only one monkey remains missing". CBS News. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  7. ^ "Leopard from exotic animal farm dies in Ohio zoo". USA Today. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Home - WCMH: News, Weather, and Sports for Columbus, OH
  9. ^ Lynch, Rene (21 October 2011). "Exotic animals endured abuse, neglect at Ohio farm, documents say". (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Exotic Animal Owner Terry Thompson: What Happened?". 22 October 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Heidi Klum session used animal from Ohio farm". CBS News. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Jack Hanna on Zanesville, Ohio, Animals: ‘We Would Have Had Carnage’ - ABC News". 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  13. ^ Ingles, Jo (2011-10-21). "Ohio governor takes steps on exotic animals". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  14. ^ America's Animal Hoarder: Horror at the Zoo - America's Animal Hoarder: Horror at the Zoo - Channel 4

Further reading[edit]