One deputy who witnessed the October slayings of dozens of exotic animals spoke Sunday about his worries surrounding the return of five surviving animals to Muskingum County.
Law enforcement officers had to kill dozens of animals when owner Terry Thompson released the animals before killing himself in October, 10TV’s Ashleigh Barry reported. Thompson’s widow, Marian Thompson, fought for months for the animal’s return. Two leopards, two primates and a bear were returned to the farm on Friday.
Muskingum County Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Merry was on scene the day the animals were released. He said that he still had concerns for the welfare of the surviving animals.
"They were innocent. These animals were totally innocent," Merry said. "I never dreamed it could be at the magnitude that it was actually at that day."
Merry said that he was forced to kill nine of the animals, orders he said he never wants to get again.
"They went from unbelievable care at the Columbus Zoo, to conditions that I don't have knowledge of whether they're ample or not. I hope so for the animals' sake, but there's no way of knowing that," Merry said. "I don't think we will ever face what we faced that night, but my main concern is just how well the animals are taken care of."
Merry said the sheriff's office will keep a close eye on the Thompson farm.
"Just me personally, this is something I never wanted to do, and I never want to do again," Merry said.
Now that Marian Thompson has retrieved the animals, there is nothing in Ohio law that allows state officials to check on their welfare or require improvements to their current conditions, Barry reported.
Thompson was not available for comment.
Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for continuing coverage.
May 04, 2012: Columbus Zoo Returns Surviving Exotic Animals To Widow
April 30, 2012: Ohio Officials To Return Exotic Animals To Widow
April 26, 2012: Widow Of Zanesville Man Who Set Exotic Animals Free To Get 40 Guns Back
April 25, 2012: Ohio Senate Approves Exotic Animal Bill
April 24, 2012: Panel Accepts Changes To Exotic Animal Rules
April 23, 2012: Zanesville Exotic Animals Given 'All Clear' During Preliminary Evaluation
March 22, 2012: Exotic Animals Tested, Fate To Be Decided Soon
February 7, 2012: Wife Of Man Who Released Animals, Killed Self Wants Animals Back
January 30, 2012: Leopard Released In Zanesville Euthanized After Spinal Cord Injury At Zoo
January 18, 2012: Report: Zanesville Man 'Distraught' Before Releasing Exotic Animals
December 22, 2011: Final Autopsy Released For Zanesville Man Who Freed Exotic Animals
November 10, 2011: Muskingum Co. Exotic Animal Owner's Weapon Inventory Brought Federal Charges
November 4, 2011 First Video Released Moments After Exotic Animals Set Free
October 27, 2011: Ohio Department Of Agriculture Quarantines Exotic Animals At Zoo
October 19, 2011: Schools Close After Animals Escape Muskingum Co. Exotic Animal Farm
October 19, 2011: Rescued Exotic Animals Arrive At Zoo
October 19, 2011: Residents Come Dangerously Close To Escaped Animals
October 19, 2011: Sheriff: Deputies Had To Shoot Escaped Animals To Kill
October 18, 2011: Schools Close After Animals Escape Muskingum Co. Exotic Animal Farm