OU-Zanesville classes remain open as hunt for exotic animals continues

A dead lion lays by the fence on Terry Thompson's farm near Zanesville Ohio yesterday. Police killed dozens of animals yesterday that escaped from the wild-animal preserve where the owner's body later was found. Warning that more animals still were on the loose, officials expected up to four school districts to cancel classes as the remaining bears, big cats and other beasts from the Muskingum County Animal Farm were hunted down. (Heather Ellers and Dustin Burton | AP Photo)

Although the fear of roaming lions, camels and cheetahs has prompted several Zanesville schools to close, Ohio University’s Zanesville branch campus will continue with classes as normal today.

Dozens of animals escaped from a wild-animal preserve in Zanesville yesterday, and the owner was found dead. The preserve housed lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears. Of the 48 animals that escaped, police had killed about 35 of them this morning.

Zanesville Mayor Howard Zwelling said he was told by the city's safety director last night that the owner shot and killed himself after releasing the animals. Officials are still awaiting autopsy results.

As local officials searched for the animals, they urged residents, especially children, to stay inside. At OU-Zanesville, campus security will patrol the campus’ borders, but the campus will remain open, said Gail Hayes, administrative coordinator to the dean at the Zanesville campus.

“We do have our security patrolling the outer parts of the campus, just making sure that everyone is safe, but we’re not closing,” Hayes said.

Zane State College will remain open for classes as well, Interim Dean Richard Greenlee said in an email to OU-Zanesville students.

"If an animal is sighted on campus, we will notify all students, faculty and staff via the campus emergency notification system. At that time, everyone should remain in the buildings until such time that the local police can remove the animal from the premises," Greenlee said in the email.

No one has been hurt in the search for the escaped animals, and officials encourage residents not to take action themselves if they see animals and not to run away.

As of now, officials believe there are three animals still at large: a mountain lion, a grizzly bear and a monkey.

—The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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