On a night in October of 2011, a very tragic event took place that did not have to happen if the proper legistration had been in place. But it was not. A mentally distraught and unbalanced man named Terry Thompson made a decision that would terrorize a community in Zanesville, Ohio and end with very sad results. 48 exotic animals including endangered Bengal tigers were released by Thompson from their cages at his farm and were gunned down by law enforcement because of the potential danger for the community. Thompson also took his own life that night. Thompson was a convicted felon who was just released from prison.

Ohio currently has some of the nation's weakest restrictions on exotic pets. Efforts to strengthen state law took on new urgency in October of 2011 after that tragedy. In response to this, legislation was introduced this past Thursday that would ban new ownership of exotic animals in the state of Ohio and immediately prohibit people from acquiring new or additional dangerous wildlife.

State Sen. Troy Balderson, a Zanesville Republican, who is sponsoring the legislation is also proposing that owners of exotic animals be subjected to background checks and required to fence their property. The proposed fencing standards would require owners to have an 8-foot-tall perimeter fence around their property, just as zoos do. In the case of the Thompson tragedy, his farm only had a 3-foot-tall livestock fence which was not high enough to prevent the animals from running away once they were out of their cages. Also owners with felony convictions (such as Thompson was) would be ineligible for special state permits to possess wild animals.

As for those currently owning lions, tigers and other large animals such as elephants and crocodiles, they would be banned in 2014 from keeping the creatures unless they acquired a wildlife shelter permit from the state. They would have to meet new caging requirements, obtain insurance, microchip the animals and adhere to strict care standards. Owners also would have to register their animals within 60 days of the law's effective date. The bill however would still let owners of constricting and venomous snakes keep their reptiles, but they must have safety plans in place in case the snakes got out. However they could still breed and acquire new snakes. Zoos, circuses, sanctuaries and research facilities would be exempt from the proposal.

This proposal is less strict than a framework suggested last year by a state study committee that Gov. John Kasich convened in April. The group had recommended a more stringent ban on the casual ownership of exotic animals, which called for the confiscation of any wildlife kept by anyone lacking the proper licenses or exemptions in 2014. Other critics of the new proposal are Jack Hanna (former director of the Columbus, Ohio zoo), who although supportive of the proposal overall, is concerned that some owners would be allowed to keep their animals because they would be grandfathered into any ban. Wayne Pacelle, (head of the Humane Society of the U.S.), has called the measure "a vast improvement" for Ohio, but expressed concern that it would allow people to acquire large constricting snakes and exempt certain facilities associated with the Zoological Association of America.

The governor of Ohio, Gov. John Kasich, and the Columbus Zoo however fully support Sen. Troy Balderson's proposal. The governor is very comfortable with the new standards because they couldn't be met by casual owners of exotic wildlife, a group he said is more inclined to have problems with the dangerous animals.
A hearing on Balderson's legislation is planned for next week and it is long overdue.


Responses to "New Exotic animal bill is introduced in Ohio after last year's tragedy"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I feel so upset to read this, all them animals had to be killed..........

  2. Anonymous says:

    I live In Ohio, I remember this Like Yesterday, This Slaughter was Uncalled for. They harassed this man so bad he was at the end of his rope. I don't Think Anyone Should Own any exotic animal Except Zoo's And I'm not Thrilled with Zoo's At all. Sanctuaries under protection for endangered animals like the wolves. But I believe All animals Should be Free not in cages. Pets Absolutely No. Wild Animals Are Not Pets and should never be pets. I have 3 Parrots All day long they are Loose Never Caged, Caged at Night for there protection. I signed the petition to ban all exotic animals in Ohio. And i feel very strongly about this since the state boys killed all those bears, wolves, monkeys, tigers, cougars, lions, those tigers are near extinction that was a hard blow to the species. mounds of bodies , it so made me sick. That Should of Never Happened

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