They had little time to react, with one deputy saying he shot a charging black bear that dropped within seven feet of him.
Two deputies shot a pair of lions running near a fence along an interstate highway. A deputy says one lion got up and charged at him before he killed it. "One of the African lions that we had shot got up and started running towards us," a deputy said. "At this point, we opened fire on it again, eventually killing it."
Sheriff's deputies were forced to kill 48 wild animals, including bears, lions and endangered Bengal tigers, after their owner, Terry Thompson, threw open their cages late in the afternoon on Oct. 18 and then committed suicide on his farm in rural eastern Ohio near Zanesville.
Deputies said they saw the man's body but couldn't get near him to determine whether he was alive because a white tiger "appeared to be eating the body," a report said.
Terry Thompson set free more than 50 wild animals in the rural area of eastern Ohio near Zanesville.
Authorities have defended their decision to shoot and kill the animals, saying they were trying to protect the public.
Their main concern appeared to be making sure none of the animals got near or outside the fences that separated the farm from several neighboring houses and Interstate 70, according to the reports released by the Muskingum County Sheriff's office.
One deputy said he shot a shot a lion after it busted through a fence and race toward a road. At the same time, he saw other deputies firing at several other lions running through the front yards of neighboring houses.
He then came across a mountain lion that was hissing and showing its teeth.
It's not known why the 62-year-old Thompson released the animals.
Just days earlier, he told a deputy that he was having a tough time taking care of the animals after spending a year in prison on a gun conviction. He also was having marital problems and deep in debt to the IRS.