One of two lionesses shown in this June 5, 2012, photo was released from its cage Sunday in Fairfield Beach, Ohio.
(Photo: Matthew Berry, Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette)
FAIRFIELD BEACH, Ohio -- Residents here were startled over the weekend when they found a neighbor's lioness lounging outside its cage.
Fairfield County sheriff's Lt. Tim Voris said his department was contacted about 7 a.m. Sunday after a neighbor found the lioness in his front yard. Voris said the Sheriff's Office and a representative from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources quickly responded. The representative did not return phone calls about the incident.
Voris said the owner, John Moore, 50, of Thornville, came out of his home and quickly brought the lioness back to her cage without incident.
"He came outside, and she made her way back to the kennel," said Voris, who is the law enforcement representative for the sheriff's exotic animal committee.
Moore did not respond to phone calls about the incident. Moore was a caretaker for Terry Thompson, who released more than 50 exotic animals from their cages at his Zanesville farm before committing suicide in October 2011.
Once the lioness was contained, Voris said, an inspection of her cage revealed damage to the chain link. The lock to the cage was missing, according to a sheriff's report.
Meat products also were set outside the enclosure, the report said. Voris said the lioness was out of her cage for an undetermined amount of time.
Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen said Moore had not detected any damage to the cage the last time he checked it.
Voris said there are no suspects in the case at this time.
Voris said Moore is in compliance with Ohio's exotic animal law, and there have been no previous incidents at the property.
Originally, Voris said, Moore owned two lions, but one died last winter because of complications from an illness.
Voris said Moore has been cooperative with the Sheriff's Office and has set up an emergency response plan in case of a situation such as the one that occurred Sunday.
"We've taken as many precautions as we can," Voris said.
Francesca Sacco, Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette