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Zanesville Mayor On KDKA: Exotic Zoo Owner 'Turned Them Loose, Shot Himself'

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) - The owner of an Ohio zoo filled with lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and more was found dead on Tuesday.

According to Zanesville Mayor Howard Zwelling, the owner is believed to have taken his own life. However, before he died, he let all the animals loose.

"I did get a call from my safety director and he told me that the owner had turned them loose and had shot himself," Mayor Zwelling said.

The incident set off a frantic search for over 40 dangerous animals outside of Zanesville. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday officials believed that only three animals -- a monkey, grizzly bear and a mountain lion -- remained unaccounted for.

KDKA-AM's Larry and John talked to Mayor Zwelling, who says he's worried about public safety and that the sheriff is shooting the animals.

"It's my understanding that the county sheriff and deputies are out. The last I heard last night, they had killed over 25 of these wild animals and there were 48 loose," Mayor Zwelling said.

Some people are concerned that the animals are being killed instead of tranquilized, including the mayor.

"It bothers me a little bit also. I was not consulted about this. It happened outside the city and so the sheriff has taken charge of this whole thing. I have not talked to the sheriff," Mayor Zwelling said.

City officials are telling residents to stay inside and several schools in the area are closed.

Listen to the full interview here:


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