Friends pay tribute to suicidal Zanesville animal owner

Law enforcement officers are seen updating the media in October, when dozens of exotic animals were set loose in Zanesville. / Source: WNWO File

An Ohio man who set loose dozens of exotic animals and then killed himself has been remembered as kind and complicated by friends who gathered for a memorial.

The Zanesville Times Recorder reports that a roomful of people shared stories about Terry Thompson on Sunday at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post. The tribute also included the blues music that Thompson loved.

He committed suicide Oct. 18 after opening cages on his property near Zanesville in eastern Ohio. Police were forced to kill 48 wild animals, including bears, lions and endangered Bengal tigers.

A veterinarian who knew Thompson for more than 40 years said at Sunday's event that he was "a little more complicated" than most people. Others talked of his compassion and his love for his animals.

Tom Reiser, who owns Reiser's Cycle Service in Columbus, told the newspaper he also worked with Thompson and said one of the greatest pleasures of his life was to have Thompson as a friend.

"Whatever T did, he did to the best of his ability," the newspaper quoted Keiser as saying. "I never saw T back away from anything or anyone. Whatever he started out doing or learning to do, he wanted to know he did it the very best he could."

RELATED VIDEO: Owner of Tiger Ridge Exotics talks about the Zanesville animal escape (10/19/2011)