Update II: Authorities now say as many as 51 animals were loose and 43-44 of them have been recovered.
Update: The Sheriff this morning says they believe Thompson opened the gates to free the animals and then shot himself. (NewsNet5)
The latest updates from Zanesville streaming in this morning have 31 of the 48 escaped exotic animals — lions, tigers, wolves, cheetahs, bears, giraffes, and more — shot and accounted for after last night's jailbreak. The whole situation leaves officials saying unforgettable sound bites like this: "We don't know how much of a head start these animals have on us." That's a real quote.
Like something out of a movie, the small Ohio town, home to an exotic animal farm run by Terry Thompson, has been on red alert overnight and into the morning with schools closed down, roadside signs warning of dangerous animals, and authorities telling folks to stay indoors after Thompson was found dead and 48 of his animals walked through their open gates and into society.
A press conference from Muskingum County is expected at 10 a.m. So far, no details on the death of Thompson, who had a host of problems with authorities stemming from his little zoo before.
Eyes of the nation, as well as the jokes of the nation, are now on the central Ohio town as SWAT teams armed with night vision and rifles and Columbus Zoo personnel continue their search. In the meantime, those in charge are urging citizens to — no lie — stay safe by posting on Twitter. We have a feeling residents will be picking up guns and not their smartphones, but whatever.
Video from local TV coverage from Channel 10 with an interview with Jack Hanna after the jump.