Zanesville, Ohio: Overrun By Wild Animals!

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Dozens of wild animals are on the loose in Zanesville, Ohio, after escaping from a 40-acre exotic animal farm in the area, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Schools were closed all through the area and local residents feared for their lives as the dangerous creatures began to roam freely across Muskingum County.

We're not talking about dogs and cats here.

Nearly 50 animals, including lions, Bengal tigers, cheetahs and wolves, escaped from the Zanesville farm whose suicidal owner, Terry Thompson, 62, apparently set them free late Tuesday night before killing himself.

Zanesville, Ohio

Some have been shot to death after efforts to tranquilize them failed.

"We are not talking about your normal everyday house cat," Sheriff Matt Lutz said at a news conference. "We could not have animals running loose in this county."

Lutz described a particularly frightening incident in which officials were confronted by a 300-pound tiger, who eventually was killed when officials had no choice.

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium described the situation as being "like Noah's ark wrecked" and defended killing the animals out of concern for public safety.

Thompson reportedly was charged with animal cruelty in 2005. Why he was allowed to legally keep such an exotic menagerie is a mystery, at least to THG.

UPDATE: As of midday today, all the animals were accounted for, except a monkey and a wolf.  "Public safety is our No. 1 concern," Lutz emphasized.

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