Chaos led to tragedy yesterday after the owner of an animal farm opened up the cages and released exotic creatures like tigers, bears and monkeys into the community. The owner of the farm, Terry Thompson, then committed suicide.
Residents were told to stay inside and schools closed for the day while the police searched for the animals. Tragically, 49 animals were shot dead including 18 Bengal tigers and 17 lions while only one grizzly bear, two monkeys and three leopards were captured alive. One monkey was found dead and was assumed to have been eaten.
Police defended their decision to kill rather than capture most of the animals because officers are not equipped with tranquilizer guns and nightfall was approaching.
Sherrif Matt Lutz said, “If this had been a 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock incident, in the middle of the day, odds are high that we may have been able to surround the area and keep everything contained. But our biggest problem that we had was nightfall. We had about an hour, hour and a half of light, and we just couldn’t take the chance.”
Conservationist Jack Hanna arrived later to try and save some of the animals by shooting them with tranquilizers. However, the tranquilizers take a few minutes to go into effect. One tiger still had to be killed after being drugged when he turned aggressively on a veterinarian.
Terry Thompson, the now deceased owner of the farm, had a long history of animal cruelty and instability. He had even threatened to let his animals go after getting visits from investigators who were responding to reports of neglect and cruelty.
CNN has chronicled his long history of abuse and run ins with the law over his animals. It’s just so sad that no one was able to close him down before such a tragedy took place. The animals did nothing wrong, and yet paid the price for his behavior.
Terry Thompson should not have been allowed to have possession of these creatures, especially after showing over and over that he was unfit to care for them. We hope this event will spur legislation limiting who can provide a home for such dangerous animals.