State Senator Troy Balderson, a Zanesville Republican, has introduced legislation that would ban new ownership of exotic animals. Current owners of lions, tigers and other large animals would face new requirements, such as obtaining a special permit, stronger cages, microchipping animals, and obtaining insurance. Also, convicted felons would not be allowed to obtain the special permits for exotic animal ownership.
The Zanesville man (Terry Thompson) who set his large exotic animals free before committing suicide, would not have been allowed to own them if Balderson’s legislation had been in effect because he was a felon and would not have passed the background check. His actions led to the deaths of many large predators, some of which were endangered, including 18 Bengal tigers. (Only about 2,500 of them are left in the wild and they are in a decline.) At his farm, Thompson reportedly only had fencing three feet high. The new bill would require exotic animal owners to have fences eight feet high.
If the bill passes, zoos, circuses, sanctuaries and research facilities would not be affected. One potential issue with the proposed legislation is the legal definition of a sanctuary. Some exotic animal owners have tried to skirt the law by calling their personal property a sanctuary in order to keep large exotic animals.
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Image Credit: Brian Gratwicke