Guest column: Bears, wolves giving Zanesville lion’s share of attention amid bedlam

Alex Antonetz

There are camels, giraffes and grizzly bears loose in the streets.

No, this isn’t the script for “Jumanji.” This is the bedlam that’s actually happening in a town just an hour east of Columbus, Ohio — which happens to be my hometown.

At least 48 wild animals escaped Tuesday from a farm just west of Zanesville, Ohio, a city with about 25,000 residents. The farm housed lions, wolves, cheetahs, tigers, giraffes, camels, grizzly bears and black bears, according to a 10TV report.

“These are wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa,” Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said in a press conference on Tuesday.

That they are.

Many of the loose animals had been killed as of Tuesday night. The owner of the property where the animals lived was found dead but officials did not immediately say how he died.

I must say that never in my time living in Zanesville had I feared for my life because there were giraffes on the loose. That’s not to say I was never fearful of other things, such as the threat of getting stabbed in my high school, catching a stray bullet from rival gangs or accidentally walking in on a meth lab.

Nope, a herd of wild camels were never much of a worry.

Seeing Zanesville in the news, though, does make me proud. After all, how many people can say right now that the Discovery Channel is currently happening live in their modest little Appalachian hometown?

This is a town with an under-appreciated history. Not only was Zanesville the state capital for two years, it also has a Y-shaped bridge (try to wrap your head around that), and is the hometown of Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio and Houston Rockets star Kevin Martin.

I admit I’m a little jealous right now that I can’t be in Zanesville offering my journalism skills. Forget “All the President’s Men.” Journalists running around with their fedoras and notepads chasing after giraffes sounds much more fun to watch.

Hold on — according to a 10TV report on Facebook, there are SWAT teams in neighboring counties out to catch the loose animals. Try to get that image out of your minds: men in SWAT gear and riot protection fighting a camel.

I should probably take a second to admit that this is a dangerous situation. Several area school districts are closed Wednesday, including the district I graduated from. A person is even dead, though the circumstances surrounding his death haven’t been made public yet.

But worry not — even if the SWAT team and the teams dispatched from the Columbus Zoo can’t catch the animals, I’m sure the folks that make up the sprawling wooded area outside of Zanesville are more than eager to rush a grizzly bear carcass to the nearest taxidermist.

Regardless, this all reminds me of April of 2010, when two cows ran loose on Ohio State’s campus. Remember how big of a deal that was?

Now, Geoffrey, the Toys ‘R Us mascot, is running rampant just an hour away from here.

Like I said, this is a potentially dangerous situation indeed, but from the comfort of Columbus (well, for now), I can laugh at things such as tweets from @ZanesvilleWolf, who tweeted, “Too soon for an #OccupyZanesville joke?”

I do hope for the best for my Zanesville family and fellow “Y-City” compatriots. However, I do hope that “Jungle” Jack Hanna and the rest of the crews will round up the army of bears and wolves running loose in the streets and restore order to my quaint little corner of Ohio sooner rather than later.

God speed, Zanesville. God speed.