Muskingum County Animal Farm
|Date closed||October 2011|
|Location||Muskingum County, Ohio, United States|
Exotic animal escape
The zoo received worldwide attention on October 18, 2011, when dozens of exotic animals were released from their enclosures. Lions, tigers, bears, and wolves were among some of the animals that 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. Owner Terry Thompson allegedly set free 56 of his exotic animals before allegedly shooting himself in the head. 110 animals were killed by the local police. The animals freed included lions, leopards, wolves, primates, bears, and eighteen tigers. The animals confirmed to be dead were the same number of tigers, six black bears, two grizzly bears, two wolves, one macaque monkey, one baboon, three mountain lions; nine male lions and eight lionesses. Three leopards, one grizzly bear, a three legged giraffe, and two monkeys were left caged inside Thompson's home. Unidentifiable samples of frozen sperm was also discovered in Thompson's basement. These animals were tranquilized and sent to the Columbus Zoo. One of the surviving leopards was subsequently injured in an accident at the zoo and was euthanized. One monkey was eaten by a tiger, while another with herpes simplex virus was never recovered. The wolf was killed after being hit by a car.
Terry Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran prone to extreme violence, was a lifelong collector of exotic animals. In the years leading up to his death he went to prison on federal gun charges and was deemed an anti-government radical, he was heavily in debt, and his wife had left him; he may also have suffered from paranoia and schizophrenia. He had acted as an animal handler on Wild Kingdom in 2008, and provided a lion cub to a photoshoot with Heidi Klum.
Jack Hanna, TV wildlife expert and Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, lamented the killings but deemed the police actions necessary. Ohio governor John Kasich called for a temporary moratorium on the sale of exotic animals. 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.
- Lynch, Rene (October 21, 2011). "Exotic Animals Endured Abuse, Neglect at Ohio farm, Documents Say". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- Jarman, Josh; Truong, Quan; Woods, Jim; Jackson, Brenda (October 19, 2011). "Sheriff: 56 Exotic Animals Escaped from Farm near Zanesville; 49 killed by Authorities". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Bears, Tigers, Lions and Wolves Escape from Ohio Zoo". BBC. October 19, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- Muskal, Michael (January 18, 2012). "Ohio Farmer Spoke of Troubles Before Freeing Exotic Animals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- Leckrone, Jim (October 19, 2011). "Ohio Governor to Sign Order on 'Dangerous Animals'". Reuters. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Ohio Sheriff: Only One Monkey Remains Missing". CBS News. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Leopard from Exotic Animal Farm Dies in Ohio Zoo". USA Today. January 30, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Zanesville Animal Escape: 4 years Later". WCMH. October 19, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Exotic Animal Owner Terry Thompson: What Happened?". People. October 22, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Heidi Klum Session Used Animal from Ohio Farm". CBS News. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Jack Hanna on Zanesville, Ohio, Animals: 'We Would Have Had Carnage'". ABC News. October 19, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- [dead link]"America's Animal Hoarder: Horror at the Zoo". Channel 4. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- Heath, Chris (March 2012). "18 Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 3 Cougars, 2 Wolves, 1 Baboon, 1 Macaque, and 1 Man Dead in Ohio". GQ.
- Jones, Chris (February 6, 2012). "Animals: The Horrific True Story of the Zanesville Zoo Massacre". Esquire.
- Lynch, Rene (October 20, 2011). "Exotic Animals: 18 Tiger Deaths a Cruel Blow to Imperiled Species". Los Angeles Times.
- Nasaw, Daniel (October 20, 2011). "Why Wild Animals Do Not Make Good Pets". BBC News.