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Mar 18, 2020

When 18 Tigers Were Let Loose in Zanesville, Ohio

Besides tigers, people keep lions, cougars, leopards, and other big cats as pets. (Illustration: Zoë van Dijk/Courtesy Longreads)
Besides tigers, people keep lions, cougars, leopards, and other big cats as pets.

There are more tigers in captivity in the United States right now than all of the wild tigers in the world combined. This is due to loopholes in the laws governing big-cat ownership—and it’s a dangerous problem. Besides tigers, people keep lions, cougars, leopards, and other big cats as pets. It’s not great for the cats that are locked in cages and basements, but it’s really not great for the people nearby when, inevitably, those cats get out. Today, we have the story of what police officers were forced to do when a man named Terry Thompson let loose 18 tigers, 17 lions, 8 bears, and a handful of other animals, and then shot himself. Nine years later, not much has changed in the way of regulation. It’s the first episode of a powerful four-part series from Longreads called Cat People that is coproduced by former Outside Podcast host Peter Frick-Wright.

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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since expanded our show and now offer a range of story formats, including interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, as well as reports from our correspondents in the field.