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Preserve owner was bitten by big cat, authorities say

The owner of the Ohio wildlife preserve, who authorities say set dozens of lions, tigers, bears, and other animals free, was bitten by one of his large cats, apparently after he fatally shot himself, officials said Thursday. The head wound to the man, Terry Thompson, 62, was “consistent with a tiger bite,” Sheriff Matt Lutz of Muskingum County said, referring to results from Thompson’s autopsy report.

Officials in Zanesville, where the wildlife preserve is located, said that Tuesday, Thompson cut open the wire cages of the exotic animals he kept on his 73-acre private preserve and left open a gate before killing himself in the driveway of his house.

Of the 56 exotic creatures that fled, 49 were hunted down and killed by sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officers, and six others were tranquilized and taken to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

The only animal unaccounted for, a monkey, has not been found and was likely eaten by one of the large cats, officials said.

The other dead animals were buried Wednesday in a mass grave on the preserve at the request of Thompson’s wife, Marian Thompson, officials said.

Ohio is one of a handful of states that do not have laws regulating the ownership of exotic species.

—Timothy Williams, The New York Times

Senate women could have banner year in 2012 — or not

WASHINGTON — The 2012 elections are likely to mark it the new “year of the woman” in the Senate. 10 women — six of them incumbents — are presumed Democratic Senate nominees this year, and another is seriously considering a run. Republicans have one female senator, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, up for re-election, and one presumed nominee, Linda Lingle of Hawaii, that state’s former governor. Other women in both parties are engaged in primary fights.

It is the greatest number of female incumbents ever up for re-election in the Senate and would be among the highest number of nominees ever, which could add up to a banner year for women in the deliberative — and testosterone-infused — legislative body.

But, with Democrats endangered and Republicans lagging in recruitment of women — one of their own, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, is retiring — it is also possible that in 2012, women could lose ground in the Senate for the first time in a generation.

—Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times

US officials deliver warning in Pakistan over extremists

ISLAMABAD — An unusually powerful U.S. delegation arrived here Thursday to deliver the starkest warning yet to Pakistan, according to a senior U.S. official: The United States would act unilaterally if necessary to attack extremist groups that use the country as a haven to kill Americans.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; David H. Petraeus, the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, planned to push their Pakistani counterparts to make a definitive choice between fighting terrorists or supporting them, the administration official said.

“This is a time for clarity,” Clinton declared in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she met President Hamid Karzai before leaving for Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. “No one should be in any way mistaken about allowing this to continue without paying a very big price.

“There’s no place to go any longer,” Clinton added, referring to Pakistan’s leaders, whom the administration has accused of equivocating by supporting the Afghan insurgency.

—Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times