Exotic animals: Owner suffered bite marks to head, was dragged

Muskingum County Animal Farm
The backyard zookeeper in Ohio who released his exotic animals earlier this week was bitten in the head around the same time he committed suicide, authorities said, raising questions about whether one of the lions or tigers turned on him or tried to eat him. 

Terry W. Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He also had bite marks on his head that appeared to come from a large cat, such as one of the Bengal tigers he kept in captivity, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said during a televised news conference Thursday morning.

It appears that the bite occurred around the time that Thompson shot himself, and that his body had been dragged a short distance, Lutz told the media.

PHOTOS: Exotic animals on the loose

It was a gruesome detail in a case that has been filled with grisly images. Sheriff's deputies shot and killed 48 animals -- including 18 tigers and 17 lions -- after Terry W. Thompson threw open the cages at his Muskingum County Animal Farm in Ohio and then killed himself. All but one of the animals at the compound -- including wolves, a baboon, and mountain lions -- have now been killed, captured or eaten by one of the cats.

Authorities are at a loss to explain why Thompson would doom the animals that he claimed to love. But there has been some speculation that it was a final act of spite aimed at neighbors and law enforcement officers. Law officers had been out to Thompson's ranch repeatedly over the years, investigating allegations of animal cruelty and gun charges.

ALSO:

Exotic animal killings: 'It's always the animals that suffer'

Wild animal killings renew call for ban on owning exotic pets

Animal welfare groups say Ohio has long failed to protect exotic animals

--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: A tractor carries a carcass for burial at the Muskingum County Animal Farm on Wednesday in Zanesville, Ohio. Credit: Tony Dejak / Associated Press

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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