Lions, tigers and bears are loose in Muskingum County, Ohio. When I first heard the news, I assumed that a few animals had escaped from a local wildlife facility, The Wilds, and shrugged it off. They know what they're doing there and I assumed it would be under control in short order. As the news continued to break, I realized that was not the case, it was certainly not under control and that all hell was breaking loose.
The 48-51 animals escaped from a private residence owned by Terry Thompson. Preliminary reports are saying that he opened the gates and then killed himself. Schools in Muskingum County were quickly closed for today. The news conference by Sheriff Matt Lutz let us know that decision was reached because they didn't want children standing at the bus stop with wild animals on the loose. However, with a grizzly bear, a mountain lion and a monkey still on the loose as of 10:30 this morning, I was shocked to see students in my neighboring county walking to school.
While no sightings were reported in our county, the truth was that we didn't know how long the gates and pens had been open before law enforcement arrived on what was called a "volatile scene." Sheriff Lutz explained that things were so out of control that he gave the direction to shoot if any deputies felt in danger. While people were immediately up in arms that they were shooting to kill instead of using tranquilizers, Lutz shared today that using the tranquilizer on one of the Bengal tigers resulted in erratic behavior from the tiger. He eventually had to be put down. Jack Hanna then stepped forward and shared a story of his friend who had been killed in 1974 by a tranquilizer gone wrong scenario by another tiger. Hanna then agreed with Lutz's decision to shoot and said he did the right thing.
The question that was never answered was this one, and is my main worry: How far could the grizzly bear and mountain lion have traveled since last night? Sightings point them heading west, while I live east, but I'm left wondering if I'm going to go outside to get in my car and find a grizzly eating my trash. (Or a monkey -- which would still freak me out.) Jack Hanna said to worry more about the mountain lion which, by the way, didn't make me feel better. Thankfully it's raining today, and I know that my elementary-aged oldest son won't be on the playground at school. We'll be inside this afternoon as well.
And so, my question: Without definitive reports that all animals had been captured, would you have let your kids walk to school this morning? 10 miles away? 15? 30? Feel free to comment on any aspect of this sad, scary story. I'll reply with answers and links as I can -- seeing as how I'll be inside all day.
Photo Credit: leandar.candaris.
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