As many as 48 wild animals, including cheetahs, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, tigers and lions are on the loose in the area of Zanesville, Ohio, after they escaped from a private wildlife preserve, police said tonight.
Officers believe they have shot as many as 25 of the animals so far, but it is not clear exactly how many escaped, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department.
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said that until the animals are rounded up, people should stay inside.
“These are wild animals, wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa,” Mutz said at a news conference this evening.
Terry Thompson, the owner of the preserve was found dead, but it’s not clear yet how he died, the sheriff said.
“This is a bad situation,” Mutz said. “It’s been a bad situation for a long time and the last thing we want to do is have any of our public hurt.”
The animals’ pens were found open, and deputies are working with the animals’ caregiver, who says the animals were fed Monday.
They’re putting food in the animals’ pens in the hopes they might return the pens where they can then secure the animals.
Police describe the animals as “mature, very big and aggressive.”
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has cordoned off seven square miles near Interstate 70 and officers are using infrared to find the animals.