Photo: AP Images
Ohio authorities in the rural town of Zanesville went on a wild hunt last Tuesday when 51 zoo animals, including monkeys, lions, and bears, were released by their owner, Terry Thompson, before he committed suicide. Police were forced to shoot most of the exotic creatures. Only six animals — three leopards, two monkeys, and a grizzly bear — survived the chaos and were turned over to the Columbus Zoo where they are currently receiving 24-hour care.
Now Marian Thompson, the widow of Terry, wants her animals back. There are obviously some concerns here.
According to The Telegraph, a zoo official said that the animals lived in unsanitary conditions in a facility much too small for their size and number:
Terry Thompson had housed the animals in tiny muddy shelters made of plywood, many without roofs. The grizzly bear was kept in an enclosure ‘about the size of a parrot cage,’ while the monkeys were found in a similar-size cage.
ABC News reports that Mr. Thompson owed up to $70,000 in unpaid taxes at the time of his death, amid other charges:
The wild animal enthusiast had two federal tax liens filed against him last year, according to the Associated Press, and other well-documented woes, including prison time, animal abuse charges and marital problems, offering new insight into what could have driven Thompson to commit suicide and send his beloved animals out to their deaths.
The state Department of Agriculture is currently blocking Ms. Thompson from reclaiming custody of her animals, ordering that the creatures remain under quarantine for at least 30 days to detect for dangerous diseases.
Still, while the zoo says it took the animals from Ms. Thompson with permission, it has no legal rights to keep them, according to the AP.
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