Exotic Pet Farm Owner's Dark Side Known To Authorities
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Exotic Pet Farm Owner's Dark Side Known To Authorities

Zanesville : OH : USA | Oct 20, 2011 at 4:37 AM PDT
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Police Seek Escaped Exotic Animals in Ohio

The Ohio man who released his collection of exotic animals into the wild before killing himself Tuesday was well known to State Authorities, according to CNN

Deeply depressed after spending a year in jail on illegal firearms charges, his marriage failing, and the strain and expense of caring for so many exotic pets led the 62 year old Terry Thompson to the breaking point.

"My cats are happier than most people," Thompson once told the Zanesville Times-Recorder. "I feed them every day, and they have a great place to live. How many people can say they have all they can eat and don't have to worry about a place to live?"

However it appears there was a darker side to Thompson, who in 2008 supplied a lion cub for a photo shoot with supermodel Heidi Klum.

"I wrote a letter to Heidi Klum's people," said Larry Hostetler, the executive director of the Animal Shelter Society of Muskingum County. "I strongly voiced my opinion that if they're going to hire animals for entertainment, they might want to check handlers' backgrounds -- that Terry Thompson had been convicted of animal cruelty.

"Of course, I never heard anything back." CNN

Repeated complaints from neighbours and townsfolk led to the charges against Thompson, who was convicted in 2005 of animal cruelty, allowing an animal to roam freely and rendering animal waste without a license.

At the local pet fair Thompson had to be asked to leave year after year for bringing wild lions, bears and apes snarling and growling at the children. He was a familiar sight around town, often seen driving around with one or another species of ferocious beast in the car with him.

On more than one occasion Thompson threatened investigators that he would let all his animals go when they came to investigate the charges of neglect and abuse.

"Thompson was known as a flamboyant, volatile man. The sheriff's department had been to the property on dozens of occasions over the last decade to check into reports of animal cruelty or animals on the loose.

Thompson would stare down those who entered his property with his steely blue eyes. He'd cuss and scream.

"I'll be damned," Thompson would shout, according to county Humane Officer David Durst. "I'll let them animals go!"" CNN

This terrifying scenario came to pass Tuesday when Thompson released the animals and then shot himself dead. Dozens of exotic tigers, lions and bears and primates tore off into the woods around Zanesville, a town of 25,000 in central Ohio.

Tragically, dozens of exotic animals were shot dead, some at close range with sidearms, including 18 rare tigers Authorities killed at least 49 animals

For full story on investigator's trepadation over dealing with Thompson and regarding Ohio's lax laws on exotic pets:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/19/us/exotic-animal-owner/index.html

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A barn stands on the property from where exotic animals escaped
A barn stands on the property from where exotic animals escaped
MichelleDevlin is based in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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