Ohio law enforcement has been working round the clock to collect the wild animals set loose Tuesday by their owner, before he committed suicide.
In Zanesville, Ohio, a wolf and a monkey still remain at large after at least 25 bears, monkeys, lions, Bengal tigers and leopards have either been captured or killed Wednesday.
Terry Thompson, 62, is speculated to have committed suicide, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said during a press conference. The law feels certain that Thompson set the animals free intentionally ahead of his death Tuesday.
“We feel that Mr. Thompson died from a self-inflicted wound. We do also feel that he released these animals at some point. Not only were the gates open, but some of the pens were also cut open,” said Lutz.
Authorities are waiting on the results of an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death, but he was found dead on his property with a gunshot wound.
Thompson was placed under six months house arrest for animal cruelty in 2005. A local veterinarian described him as “an animal collector,” according to the Associated Press.
The animal enthusiast referred to his operation as an animal shelter, and was involved in photography. He once provided lion cubs for a photo shoot featuring Heidi Klum in 2007, The Dispatch reported.
Three weeks ago, Thompson was released from prison after serving one year for weapons offenses.
Lutz said the police “weren’t going to take any chances” and have shot dead 48 animals since Tuesday night. Animals include one baboon, 18 tigers, and a dozen monkeys.
“We are not talking about your everyday house cat or dog. These are 300-pound Bengal tigers we had to put down,” the Sheriff continued.
Defending the decision to kill most of the animals, Lutz emphasized that the animals were “mature, very big, aggressive” and that they posed a serious threat to the public.
Residents in the area reported spotting the animals, and Thompson’s neighbor, Sam Kopchak, said he saw a tiger chasing horses before he called the police.
Once authorities arrived to the property, Kopchak said, “It was like a war zone,” reported CNN.
Kopchak noted that Thompson was aloof, and loved animals, once spotting his neighbor driving with a baby black bear on his chest.
Schools and businesses nearby were closed Wednesday morning per authority’s request, and people were asked to stay indoors and to call the sheriff’s office if any animals were spotted.