At least 48 exotic animals have escaped or been set loose from the Muskingham County Animal Farm in Zanesville, Ohio.
Some of the wild animals have been shot and killed by police after they escaped from an enclosure where their owner was later found dead.
The wild animals bolted after their cages were left open in a reservation which housed exotic animals including tigers, lions, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears.
Terry Thompson, the owner of the reserve was found dead by police at the farm.
Terry Thompson’s body was discovered on the ground and all the animal cage doors were open.
Ohio police did not reveal the cause of Terry Thompson’s death but said several aggressive animals were near his body when officers arrived and had to be shot.
The reserve owner, who lived on the property, had chimps in cages in his home but these were still locked up.
Authorities urged nearby residents to stay indoors as wild animals were spotted wandering up and down highways in the area.
Police refused to give details of all the animals that had been shot but said bears and wolves were among the 25 animals killed.
“These are wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa,” said Sheriff Matt Lutz.
The sheriff described the escaped animals as “mature, very big, aggressive” but a keeper at the park had told them the reserve’s 48 animals had been fed on Monday.
Sheriff Matt Lutz added that police officers were patrolling the 40-acre farm and the surrounding areas in cars, not on foot, and were concerned about big cats and bears hiding in woodland.
Until now, there are no reports of injuries from residents.
It was reported an increasing number of phone calls made by locals who saw wild animals on local roads.
Caretakers from Columbus Zoo Ohio were at the scene in the hope of tranquillizing and capturing the rest of the animals so no more have to be killed.
Meanwhile, at least four school districts in the area have cancelled classes until the animals are rounded up.
According to Sheriff Matt Lutz, the authorities main concern is protecting the public.
“Any kind of cat species or bear species is what we are concerned about. We don’t know how much of a head start these animals have on us.”
Laura Jones, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which usually deals with native wildlife like deer, said wildlife officers were helping the sheriff’s office to cope.
According to statistics, the state of Ohio has some of the nation’s weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them.
Ohio requires permits for bears but doesn’t regulate the ownership of animals like lions and tigers.