The Muskingum County Sheriff spoke out on Wednesday about his decision to order escaped animals to be shot and killed.
According to Sheriff Matt Lutz, 49 escaped exotic animals were shot and killed on sight, 10TV's Jessa Goddard reported.
"Public safety was my number one concern," said Lutz. "I gave the order on the way here that if animals looked like they were going out, they went down. We could not have animals running loose in this county."
The sheriff said there were attempts to tranquilize some of the animals, Goddard reported.
Columbus Zoo Director Emeritus Jack Hanna went to the scene hoping to tranquilize and capture animals that survived into the daylight hours, but veterinarians were only able to successfully reach six of them.
Hanna said he supported Lutz's decision, Goddard reported.
"The sheriff did the right thing," said Hanna. "I know we have animal rights groups giving me threatening calls right now."
The Ohio Director of the Humane Society of the United States Karen Minton said she commended sheriff's deputies for protecting the public, but blames the state's lack of exotic animal regulations for what happened, Goddard reported.
Governor John Kasich's administration said they have convened a stakeholder group to develop standards, but animal rights groups are calling for immediate interim action.
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