Ohio Zoo Returns Exotic Animals to Owner After Husband's Suicide

A woman will soon be reunited with the animals she lost after her husband set them free before killing himself. Marian Thompson of Ohio will take custody of two leopards, two primates, and a bear today.

The Columbus zoo had been holding the animals in quarantine, lest they have an infectious disease. That protective order was repealed and the animals sent back to their home, which now is capable of handling such exotic animals. They had been released on October 18, after Terry Thompson opened all of their cages before committing suicide.

Authorities at that time were concerned with the safety of Thompson's neighbors and had to put down 48 exotic animals, including black bears, mountain lions and Bengal tigers. The news brought animal activist and director emeritus of the Columbus zoo Jack Hanna to tears.

In an interview with the media in October, Hanna assured the public that the officers had done the right thing, even though it was incredibly hard.

"They are feeling pain," he said of the deputies. "They had to go home and talk to their children about why Daddy had to kill a tiger."

"My heart aches for the animals," Hanna added. "But my heart also aches for all of the people who could have lost their lives." Several of the animals displayed aggressive behavior, perhaps out of fear, that required them to be put down.

According to reports, the Thompsons owned the animals as a private free zoo, and did not deal in the world of exotic animal trafficking. Terry had been cited for misdemeanor charges related to animal mistreatment, and authorities had been called 30 times about animals roaming about, Sheriff Matt Lutz told reporters.

Now, though, Thompson's attorney has assured authorities that his client has the proper cages needed for the animals. The smaller population should make it easier for her to care for. At one point the Thompsons owned 56 animals.