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Ohio Officials Say Wild Animals Will Not Be Given To Owner's Widow

(A new lede was put on this story at 2:35 p.m. ET)

As the widow of the Ohio man who last week paralyzed a community by releasing 56 lions, tigers, bears and other exotic animals from his farm came this afternoon to claim the six creatures who survived, the Ohio Department of Agriculture put a stop to her plans.

The department ordered that the three leopards, two macaques and a young grizzly bear stay at the Columbus Zoo, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

It adds that "the quarantine order is in effect indefinitely, but [Marian] Thompson can appeal and get a hearing in 30 days, said Rob Nichols, spokesman for Gov. John Kasich."

Our original post and earlier updates follow.

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. The story has changed dramatically, according to The Associated Press, which just moved this "alert":

"Ohio governor's office: 6 animals to be quarantined, not sent to wife of suicidal keeper."

We'll update again as the story develops.

Our original post and an earlier update:

"The six animals rescued from the tragedy in Zanesville [Ohio] last week are being reclaimed by the former owner's widow," The Columbus Dispatch reports.

In a statement this morning, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said it has been notified "by attorneys for Marian Thompson, the widow of Terry Thompson," that she wants the three leopards, two Celebes macaques and a young grizzly bear that were captured and taken to the zoo last week after her husband set 56 creatures free and then apparently killed himself.

Sheriff's deputies killed 48 of the other animals, including lions, tigers, bears and wolves. Two monkeys were likely killed and eaten by the big cats.

The zoo said the animals could be transferred to Marian Thompson "as early as today."

"We had hoped Ms. Thompson would leave the animals at the Zoo in the care of our team of professionals," Columbus Zoo and Aquarium CEO and President Dale Schmidt said in the statement. "We are trying to get authorization from government authorities and agencies to ensure they stay at the Zoo. Unfortunately, the current laws do not protect the animals and at this time we have no legal right to stop them from being taken from the Zoo."

The Dispatch reports that "one of Mrs. Thompson's attorney, Bob McClelland, said neither the law firm nor his client would comment further." It isn't known where Marian Thompson plans to take the animals. The local Zanesville Times Recorder says that Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz "has heard talk that Marian might take the animals to a nature preserve in Northern Ohio, possibly near her Mansfield home, but he doesn't know if that will happen or not." The Thompsons were separated.

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET: The Times Recorder is live-blogging here and says Marian Thompson should be arriving at the zoo soon to get the animals.

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