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Published October 20, 2011, 02:35 PM

Ohio Owner of Exotic Animals Was Deep in Debt

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The owner of an exotic animal farm who set dozens of tigers, lions and bears free into the Ohio countryside had been deep in debt.

By: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Ann Sanner, Associated Press

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The owner of an exotic animal farm who set dozens of tigers, lions and bears free into the Ohio countryside had been deep in debt.

Court records show that Terry Thompson and his wife had money problems dating to the 1990s but that their debt escalated in recent years. They owed at least $68,000 in unpaid income and property taxes.

Thompson also just got out of prison last month after spending a year behind bars for possessing unregistered guns.

Investigators have refused to speculate about what pushed him to unleash more than 50 animals on Tuesday before killing himself. Deputies shot and killed dozens of the escaped animals.

Neighbors say they are shocked that Thompson did anything that could have harmed his beloved animals.

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