Cops Successfully Hunt Down Escaped Animals

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Police in Ohio said Thursday the 56 exotic animals released from a wild-animal preserve have now been captured or killed.

Police were forced to shoot most of the animals, including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions, after the owner of the private Muskingum County Animal Farm near Zanesville freed them from their cages before committing suicide.

"What a tragedy," veterinarian Barb Wolfe, with The Wilds animal preserve sponsored by the Columbus Zoo, told the Associated Press.

"We knew that ... there were so many dangerous animals at this place that eventually something bad would happen, but I don't think anybody really knew it would be this bad," she said.

Officials transported six of the animals to the local zoo. They say the last holdout, a monkey infected with herpes, is believed to have been eaten by one of the other animals.

While visibly horrified at the sight of the bloody carcasses, animal rights advocates said the authorities had no other option but to kill the animals.

"It's a tragedy for these particular animals, for no fault of their own they've been shot, and I can see how difficult that decision was for the police," said Will Travers, chief executive of the California-based Born Free USA animal welfare and wildlife conservation organization.

Ohio has one of the most lenient laws in the country on exotic pets, something many believe should be changed.

"Clearly, we need tougher laws. We haven't had them in this state. Nobody's dealt with this, and we will. And we'll deal with it in a comprehensive way," Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, vowed.

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