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“What was he to do at nighttime with tigers and lions, leopards, going out there?” Mr. Hanna said. “In the wild this would be a different situation.”

Mr. Hanna told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that if an officer shot a bear, a leopard or a tiger with a tranquilizer at night, “the animal gets very excited, it goes and hides, and then we have his officer in danger of losing their life, and other people.”

The preserve in Zanesville also had cheetahs, giraffes and camels. Sheriff Lutz called the animals very big and aggressive but said a caretaker told authorities they had been fed on Monday.

Ms. White, the preserve’s neighbor, said Mr. Thompson repeatedly had been in legal trouble.

“He was in hot water because of the animals, because of permits, and (the animals) escaping all the time,” Ms. White said. A few weeks ago, she said, she had to avoid some camels that were grazing on the side of a freeway.

At a nearby Moose lodge, Bill Weiser said, “It’s breaking my heart, them shooting those animals.”

Bailey Hartman, a night manager at a McDonald’s, also said it saddened her that the animals were shot, but she said, “I was kind of scared coming in to work.”

Ohio has some of the nation’s weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them. In 2010, an animal caretaker was killed by a bear at a property in Cleveland.

On Wednesday, the Humane Society of the United States criticized Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, for allowing a statewide ban on the buying and selling of exotic pets to expire in April. The organization urged the state to immediately issue emergency restrictions.

“How many incidents must we catalog before the state takes action to crack down on private ownership of dangerous exotic animals?” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO, said in a statement.

Associated Press writers Ann Sanner and Doug Whiteman contributed to this report.