Zoo animals on the loose! Armed police wrap up hunt for 51 escaped lions, tigers, giraffes and bears after reserve owner set them free before shooting himself
Police round up last of 'mature, aggressive wild animals'
Residents urged to stay indoors and schools closed after beasts were spotted roaming the highways
Owner freed animals before shooting himself
He had recently been in jail on weapons charges and had a record for animal cruelty
By Rachel Quigley
Last updated at 10:07 PM on 19th October 2011
Police were today hunting down the last of the remaining wild animals that terrorised a small Ohio community after their owner freed more than 50 of the wild beasts before killing himself.
Terry Thompson was found dead by authorities at the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, Ohio, and his body was surrounded by a number of aggressive animals.
All of the animals have now been accounted for except a monkey and a wolf.
Authorities were issued with a 'shoot-to-kill' order after they received a 911 call telling them the animals were running loose last night.
A number were shot last night and throughout the day - including Bengal tigers, grizzly bears, leopards, camels, wolves and giraffes - and police warned residents to stay in their homes and motorists to stay in their cars until the animals were rounded up. Local schools were also closed.
Muskingham County sheriff Matt Lutz said the animals were already out of their pens when deputies arrived.
He said: 'We feel that Mr Thompson died from a self-inflicted wound. We also feel he had released these animals at some point. Not only were the gates open but some of the pins were open.'
Sheriff Matt Lutz said they are still waiting on the results of the preliminary autopsy to establish Mr Thompson's cause of death but did confirm it was a suicide.
He called the killing of the animals 'senseless' because they were not in a proper environment
Mr Thompson, who lived on the property, had chimps in cages in his home but these were still locked up.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium director emeritus Jack Hanna said he 'can see this happening', based on his knowledge about the animal world.
'The guy was depressed and he loved the animals that much, maybe,' he said.
Sam Kopchak, Thompson's neighbour, said he saw lions and bears running free on Tuesday evening. A tiger was chasing horses, he told CNN.
His mother then called police and told them it was like a 'war zone'.
Mr Kopchak described Thompson as being an aloof lover of animals. He said saw him driving one time with a baby black bear on his chest.
Lutz said authorities found primates inside the house.
Throughout the day, police urged nearby residents to stay indoors as animals were spotted wandering up and down highways in the area.
Mr Thompson, 62, was released from prison three weeks ago after serving a one-year term for weapons offences.
In 2005, he was convicted of cruelty to animals and placed under house arrest for six months, according to the New York Post.
A local veterinarian who inspected some of Thompson's animals described him as 'an animal collector', although Thompson claimed he was operating an animal shelter.
He was also said to be involved in fashion photography, and once provided lion cubs for use in a photo shoot with model Heidi Klum in 2007, The Dispatch reported.