Although details are few at this point, what is known makes for a sad story. The owner of the Muskingum County Animal Farm, a wild animal preserve in Ohio, was found dead on his property late yesterday afternoon. Most all the cage doors for the 48 animals had been left open. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels, bears, orangutans and chimpanzees had been housed on the property although it’s unclear how many escaped the preserve. The AP is reporting police officers shot and killed close to 30 of the loose animals. Classes were cancelled for area schools and motorists were warned to stay in their vehicles due to wild animals being spotted near the highways.
There was reportedly no safe way to attempt to tranquilize and capture the animals in the dark so they were simply shot on sight. In the daylight today, there may be some hope for capturing any remaining animals alive.
Added: Local 4 News in Detroit is tweeting updates on the situation. They report that police say the preserve owner opened the cage doors then killed himself. Police are reportedly receiving threatening messages from animal activists regarding the shooting of the animals. Jack Hanna is defending the actions of the police. One person was arrested trying to steal one of the loose animals. There are only 3 animals unaccounted for at this point – a mountain lion, a grizzly, and some type of monkey. No one has been hurt by the animals so far.