An exotic animal farm owner, Terry Thompson, was found dead Tuesday in Zanesville, Ohio and an unknown number of wild animals escaped his farm, including bears, giraffes, camels, wolves, tigers, cougars and cheetahs. The fences of Thompson's home had been left unsecured, but it is not known who opened the animals' gates.
Thompson's cause of death has not been determined.
NBC Station WCMH reported that Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz issued a shoot to kill order to deputies who have been traveling the area with assault rifles. Approximately 25 animals have already been shot, however officials believe many more animals are still on the lose.
Lutz described the animals as mature, very large and aggressive. Residents of Zanesville and the surrounding area have been asked to stay indoors.
Sheriff Matt Lutz said, Public safety is the number one priority.
There have been multiple sightings of exotic animals along Interstate 70. Lutz warned residents to be cautious while driving near Kopchak Road and Interstate 70.
This is a bad situation, it's been a bad situation for a long time, Lutz said.
Staff from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Wilds are also on the scene trying to tranquilize the animals and bring them to safety in the zoo.
Any kind of cat species or bear species is what we are concerned about, Lutz told WBNS-TV. We don't know how much of a head start these animals have on us.