US Deputies Kill Roaming Wild Animals in Ohio

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 8:20 pm (UTC-5)
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One wild animal remains unaccounted for in the central U.S. state of Ohio, after tigers, bears, wolves and other animals were set free from a privately owned exotic animal farm.

Sheriff Matt Lutz told reporters Wednesday that deputies killed 48 animals, including 18 rare Bengal tigers. Six animals were captured and taken to the nearby Columbus Zoo. A wolf was later found dead. Only a monkey remains missing.

The animals were set free Tuesday, when the owner of the farm opened their cages before apparently committing suicide. Deputies with high-powered rifles searched the surrounding area to track down the roaming, dangerous wild animals.

The former director of the Columbus Zoo, Jack Hanna, said the scene was like something from “Noah's Ark.” Hanna defended officials' decision to shoot and kill the animals. Sheriff Lutz said the shoot-to-kill order was necessary for public safety.

Law enforcement officials said they were aware of neighbors' complaints about problems at the farm. Deputies had visited the property several times in the past few years.

The owner recently was released from prison, where he served time on a weapons-related charge. Officials also said he had a prior conviction for animal cruelty.

Schools in the area closed for the day and signs along area highways warned drivers to stay inside their vehicles.