The owner of the farm, Terry Thompson, was found dead last night on his property. Authorities say Thompson opened the cage doors and cut the wires on the cages, then killed himself. He died from a gunshot wound. Lutz said Thompson's body was "bothered" by the animals. Lutz had previously said a grizzly bear, a wolf and a mountain lion were missing. Today, authorities confirmed they killed the bear on the property last night. The wolf was later found dead; it had been shot last night. An officer wounded the mountain lion, which staggered into a neighbor's property and died. Thompson's wife has returned to the farm and is talking to authorities. Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, said the wife begged authorities not to take her "babies," but he convinced her to let the animals go and work it out later. "I held her, I felt her shock. Her animals are gone. Her family is gone. Everything in her life is gone," Hanna said. The animals that were killed by authorities likely will be buried on Thompson's property.
Lutz defended the shooting of the escaped animals. He said when deputies arrived at the house, there were large animals trying to escape. The deputies had to shoot them with their sidearms. "Public safety was my No. 1 concern," Lutz said. "I gave the order that if the animals looked like they were going to get out, they were going down." Hanna called this morning for the state to enact regulations to crack down on the possession, breeding and selling of exotic animals. "I went to school at Muskingum (College)," he said. "It's like Noah's ark wrecked."
Hanna said he has talked to the governor's office about enacting stricter exotic animal laws. "We need to set an example in the state of Ohio," he said. "There was a loss of life here, and we thank God it was not human life. It was animal life, and that's my life." Hanna also defended the deputies shooting the animals.
The deputies were assisted by the State Highway Patrol, authorities from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Wilds, the state Division of Wildlife, the county Emergency Management Agency and township fire departments.