Ohio Zoo Animals Will Not Be Released to Owner

Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium/AP Photo

ABC News’ Barbara Lowe in Powell, Ohio, and Christina Caron report:

Marian Thompson, the wife of the man who killed himself and then allegedly  set free 50 of his exotic animals in Zanesville, Ohio, left the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium with an empty horse trailer this afternoon after being turned away by officials who say she cannot take her remaining six animals home.

The six animals that survived the Oct. 18 massacre – a grizzly bear, three leopards and two macaque monkeys – were brought to the Columbus Zoo in Powell, Ohio, where they have been under quarantine. But today’s  formal quarantine order from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, issued this afternoon, prevents Thompson from taking her animals back home.

“The order was issued because of the possibility that the animals could be infected with disease as a result of the conditions in which they were reportedly held,” according to a statement from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Zoo officials told reporters today that the animals were kept in poor conditions at Terry Thompson’s farm. The monkeys and grizzly bear were kept in parrot cages, while the leopards lived in small plywood boxes, the officials said.

“The facilities were in poor conditions — muddy, small shelters made out of plywood — and the enclosure space was very limiting. If you care for animals you do your best to give them the best care and this wasn’t the best care,” said Tom Stalf, Senior VP of Operations at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.  ”The facility was small with many, many animals, too many for them to care for.”

The zoo plans to do blood tests on all of the animals to check for diseases such as the herpes B virus.

Thompson has 30 days to appeal the order and is entitled to a hearing.