Columbus Zoo's Hanna Defends 'Shoot To Kill' Order


UPDATED: Friday October 21, 2011 8:03 AM

Wildlife expert Jack Hanna on Thursday explained in detail what zoo workers and deputies encountered after dozens of exotic animals were released from an animal farm.

Forty-nine animals, including tigers, lions and bears were killed after they were released from their enclosures in Zanesville on Tuesday, 10TV News reported.  Six of the animals were transported to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium where they were being examined.

Hanna, the director emeritus at the zoo, said that trying to tranquilize all the animals was not an option when deputies were approaching Terry Thompson's property.

"The animals are out, the sheriff's (deputies) start approaching the place, I don't know how many cars were going up through there and now you have these animals -- picture it -- over a hill, coming down, jumping fences everywhere," Hanna said.

According to Hanna, a decision needed to be made quickly because darkness was quickly approaching.

Although some have criticized and even threatened Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz, Hanna said that given the circumstances and the threat to the community that it was not an option.

"Tranquilization is very complicated," Hanna said.  "When we tranquilize animals at the zoo, we have to plan it for several weeks.  We have to find out how much it weighs, has it eaten, how much medicine to put in it.  All of a sudden we have all these animals, we don't know their weight, (and) we don't know if they've eaten, we don't know anything.  How in the world, if we hit these animals, once they go to sleep you don't know when they'll wake, they're going to go crazy, so therefore they're in the neighborhoods."

Hanna made his comments from Houston where he attended a fundraiser for the city's zoo.  He said that the loss of animal life is tragic but what occurred in Zanesville had to happen.

"We would have had definite loss of life if the sheriff had not made that decision to put the animals down," Hanna said.

The animals that were saved and transported to the Columbus Zoo were scheduled to be given blood tests to ensure that they are not carrying diseases, 10TV's Ashleigh Barry reported.

Thompson, 62, was bitten by one of the animals after he shot himself, Lutz said.

Gov. John Kasich is forming a task force to examine how to strength Ohio's law about exotic animals, 10TV News reported.

On Wednesday, Hanna offered up The Wilds, a wildlife conservation in Cumberland, Ohio, as a refuge for animals that would be taken under a proposed law.

Stay with 10TV News and 10TV.com for continuing coverage.Wildlife expert Jack Hanna on Thursday explained in detail what zoo workers and deputies encountered after dozens of exotic animals were released from an animal farm.

Forty-nine animals, including tigers, lions and bears were killed after they were released from their enclosures in Zanesville on Tuesday, 10TV News reported.  Six of the animals were transported to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium where they were being examined.

Hanna, the director emeritus at the zoo, said that trying to tranquilize all the animals was not an option when deputies were approaching Terry Thompson's property.

"The animals are out, the sheriff's (deputies) start approaching the place, I don't know how many cars were going up through there and now you have these animals -- picture it -- over a hill, coming down, jumping fences everywhere," Hanna said.

According to Hanna, a decision needed to be made quickly because darkness was quickly approaching.

Although some have criticized and even threatened Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz, Hanna said that given the circumstances and the threat to the community that it was not an option.

"Tranquilization is very complicated," Hanna said.  "When we tranquilize animals at the zoo, we have to plan it for several weeks.  We have to find out how much it weighs, has it eaten, how much medicine to put in it.  All of a sudden we have all these animals, we don't know their weight, (and) we don't know if they've eaten, we don't know anything.  How in the world, if we hit these animals, once they go to sleep you don't know when they'll wake, they're going to go crazy, so therefore they're in the neighborhoods."

Hanna made his comments from Houston where he attended a fundraiser for the city's zoo.  He said that the loss of animal life is tragic but what occurred in Zanesville had to happen.

"We would have had definite loss of life if the sheriff had not made that decision to put the animals down," Hanna said.

The animals that were saved and transported to the Columbus Zoo were scheduled to be given blood tests to ensure that they are not carrying diseases, 10TV's Ashleigh Barry reported.

Thompson, 62, was bitten by one of the animals after he shot himself, Lutz said.

Gov. John Kasich is forming a task force to examine how to strength Ohio's law about exotic animals, 10TV News reported.

On Wednesday, Hanna offered up The Wilds, a wildlife conservation in Cumberland, Ohio, as a refuge for animals that would be taken under a proposed law.

Stay with 10TV News and 10TV.com for continuing coverage.

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