New Art Exhibit, Podcast Detail Zanesville Animal Tragedy

Police killed 49 exotic animals after they were set free in 2011

click to enlarge New Art Exhibit, Podcast Detail Zanesville Animal Tragedy
Painting by Claire Flath
TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses violence against animals and suicide.

A new exhibit is set to open at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in conjunction with a podcast detailing what some refer to as Zanesville Massacre, where 49 exotic animals were gunned down by Muskingum County police in a frantic effort to maintain public safety.

The podcast, Life on the Ark! launches Aug. 26 and the exhibit will be on display at the academy’s McClure Gallery from Aug. 22 to Sept. 23.

The podcast, created by Kelly Swope, tells how the Zanesville Massacre altered local life along with state and federal laws through interviews with a multitude of people directly involved with the event, all in an attempt to shed light on what they went through and its aftermath.

Life on the Ark: A Visualization artist Claire Flath made a series of paintings that “illustrates the many perspectives retold in the podcast, giving the audience a broader understanding of the events that occurred that night,” she wrote in a release.

The Zanesville Massacre is a tragic event that happened Oct. 18, 2011 in Zanesville, Ohio, where at the end of the day 50 exotic animals died after being set loose by their owner. Among those killed by police for fear they might harm humans were 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, three cougars, two grizzly bears and a baboon — it’s also believed a monkey was eaten by one of the large cats after they were freed.

The man responsible for the chaos in Zanesville, Terry Thompson, released the inhabitants of his private animal sanctuary before he fatally shot himself. As a result of Thompson’s actions, Ohio was compelled to pass legislation on exotic animal ownership laws with hopes of preventing similar incidents in the future. The five surviving animals were returned to Thompson’s widow in May of 2012.

Life on the Ark! , hosted by Kelly Swope, will consist of 8 episodes and be available on Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Apple and Google Podcasts. To learn more, visit

To learn more about artist Claire Flath's exhibit inspired by Life on the Ark!, visit

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