David Usborne
The Independent

October 21, 2011

It wasn’t easy for residents of Zanesville, Ohio, to fathom how such carnage involving so many exotic animals could have happened in their midst yesterday, and yet, looking back, you could say that something like this was always bound to happen at the private Dolittle compound of Terry Thompson.

The pandemonium at the Muskingum County Animal Farm began late Tuesday when police officers responded to calls that some of its 56 animals were on the loose. They found the farm gate unlocked and animal cage doors wide open. They also found Thompson dead from a gunshot wound. It is believed he shot himself.

That Thompson, a veteran of Vietnam who sold firearms from the farm and once owned a Harley Davidson dealership in the area, had long been at war with the rest of the world was no secret. He had just spent a year in prison for firearms violations and had often been in dispute with neighbours.

The sheriff’s office had received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals escaping on to neighbours’ property. Thompson had been charged over the years with animal cruelty, animal neglect and allowing animals to roam.

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