Almost two years after a suicidal man loosed about 50 lions, tigers and bears on the Ohio countryside, the rest of his estate — including vintage cars and farm animals — is set to be auctioned off next week.
Terry Thompson, 62, owned dozens of exotic animals — including 18 rare Bengal tigers, 17 lions, eight bears, three mountain lions, a baboon and a wolf — all of which he released from their cages at his 73-acre farm near Zanesville in October 2011 before he killed himself.
Six of the animals were captured alive and taken to the Columbus Zoo, local authorities reported.
Police spent almost a full day gunning down the wild beasts because of the danger they posed to local citizens, and placed signs on local highways alerting motorists to stay in their vehicles.
The auction is scheduled for Aug. 14 at Thompson's estate, known as the Muskim County Animal Farm in Zanesville. The animals up for auction are not as exotic as the lions and tigers, but include three dozen horses, ponies and donkeys.
But Thompson didn't just collect exotic animals. Thompson’s widow Marion worked with Jeff Koehler, owner of SE Ohio Auctions, to go catalog Thompson’s petting-zoo equipment, Harley Davidson motorcycle collection and more than 60 cars, some of which are vintage.
“It just amazes me that one man had the ability to acquire so many amazing things in such a short life time,” Koehler said.
Koehler said there will be two or three auction rings throughout the day and that he and Marion are expecting a large crowd because of the uniqueness of Thompson’s collection.
Marion is working on a book about Terry’s life to set the record straight that he was a good man, which Koehler attested to saying Terry would go to local schools and hospitals to show off some of his exotic animals and that he served the U.S. in the Vietnam War.
While both Terry and Marion shared the estate and their love of animals and automobiles, Koehler said the auction is to help Marion start the next chapter of her life.
“As time goes on, we have to have endings,” he said. “Marion knows it’s time to sell a lot of these things and move on with her life.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report