I was watching the show Animal Planet, and they were doing a profile on Terry Thompson. Does the name ring a bell? If you’re from Ohio, it should.
If you want to see how violence, war, and guns can lead to tragedy, read his story.
Thompson was a nice farm kid who lived outside of Zanesville, Ohio. He had a natural affinity for animals. He met a girl named Marian who also loved animals, and the young couple fell in love.
It was during the time the unrelenting Vietnam War was going on. Thompson was taken from his nice farm life into the jungles of Vietnam 8000 miles away. He was an innocent kid exposed to killing and war. He really didn’t hit it off with the other soldiers, but he did have a jungle monkey that he spent time with.
He went home to Zanesville, married Marian, but he wasn’t the same guy. He missed the adrenaline rush from the war. He started doing things like collecting cars and driving too fast. But then, he discovered a way to feed his need for excitement and enjoy an old love.
He started adopting animals. Not just any kind of animals: leopards, tigers, wolves, bears. He built cages, fed them meat, and worked at keeping up with them. It became almost impossible. His wife helped him. She tried to talk him out of adopting more and more animals. After awhile, the animals cages deteriorated. It was
To make ends meet, he had to sell his large arsenal of guns he’d collected. He’d once been a gun dealer, but had to give up his license. So what he was doing was illegal. Finally, he got arrested by the AFT ( Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco Agency) He was set up. An agent wore a wire while he was buying a gun, Terry was arrested.
He pled guilty and spent 10 months in jail. He came home, but his wife had left him. He was alone with his animals. A friend told him that Marian had been unfaithful to him and that might have pushed him over the edge.
One day he went out to where his animals were, and unlocked their cages. He spread chicken around him, and shot himself with a 365 Magnum.
Nobody ever quite figured out why he let those animals loose. He must have known that they would end up getting killed. He loved them, so what happened? Was it his way of getting back at everyone. Nobody will ever know.
When he was found his animals had eaten part of his body, and were roaming around the farm, about to escape.
There was no choice, but to kill the wild animals. So, the officials had to kill all 49 of the animals, so they wouldn’t escape. I didn’t know any of the animals were salvaged until I saw the TV show.
According to the show, after a while Marian was able to reclaim six of the wild animals that were staying at the zoo. She felt they were like her children. I am not sure if she still has them. It doesn’t seem quite right to me.
It’s a perfect example of war, violence, guns, and people losing their minds. A sad commentary on our times.
Do you think she should have been able to reclaim the animals after what happened?