Sheriff: Active Search For Monkey Ends


UPDATED: Wednesday October 19, 2011 10:31 PM

Sheriff Matt Lutz said he is confident that the monkey missing from a Muskingum County exotic animal farm was dead on Wednesday.

According to Lutz, the monkey is thought to have been eaten by one of the escaped cats.

Forty-nine of 56 escaped exotic animals had been shot and killed on Wednesday, Sheriff Matt Lutz said.

The sheriff's office announced on Wednesday afternoon that the body of a wolf had been recovered and now only a monkey remains on the loose.

The director of the Columbus Zoo as well as The Wilds recommended that the escaped monkey be shot and killed on sight because it could possibly carry Herpes B, the sheriff said.

Of the 49 animals that were shot and killed, there were two wolves, six black bears, nine male lions, eight lionesses, one baboon, three mountain lions, and 18 tigers.

"It's a tragedy for the animal world," said Columbus Zoo director emeritus Jack Hanna. "It could've been a bigger tragedy for the human world, that's what we tried to avoid here last night."

According to the sheriff said six animals were transported to the Columbus Zoo.

Earlier, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said that a grizzly bear and a mountain lion were on the loose.  He later announced that the animals were shot and killed on Tuesday night.

Lutz said that the owner of the preserve, Terry Thompson, released the animals from the Kopchak Road property before he took his own life.

Lutz said that his deputies were not armed with tranquilizers and ordered them to shoot the animals - some at close range - because they posed a threat to the community.

"If the animals looked like they were going (out of the property), I told (deputies), 'Put them down,'" Lutz said.

Hanna drove overnight from Pennsylvania in hopes of saving the animals but defended Lutz's orders.

"The sheriff did the right thing," Hanna said.

The preserve had lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears.  Authorities said that bears and wolves were among the escaped animals that were killed and there were multiple sightings of exotic animals along nearby Interstate 70.  One of the animals was struck and killed by a passing vehicle along the interstate, Lutz said.

"These are wild animals that you would see on TV, in Africa," Lutz said on Tuesday night.

Nearby residents were asked to stay indoors.  Schools were canceled for the day for Zanesville City Schools, Maysville Local Schools, Foxfire Community Schools, West Muskingum Local Schools and St. Nicholas Elementary School.  Licking Valley Elementary School was placed under a two-hour delay because of the hunt.

"It's been a bad situation for a long time and the last thing we want to do is to have any of our public hurt," Lutz said.  

Thompson was found dead outside his home on the preserve's property near Kopchak Road.  Authorities said that the fences were left unsecured.
The Licking County Sheriff's Office said they had received at least four reports of exotic animal sightings at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

As a precaution, the Licking County Sheriff's Office said they had activated members of its SWAT team who were equipped with night vision and the weapons necessary to deal with the animals.

Thompson had orangutans and chimpanzees in his home, but those were still in their cages, Lutz said.

According to Lutz, his department received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals at Thompson's property.

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