Exotic-animal control law signed – Ohioans barred from purchases starting in 2014

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COLUMBUS — Nearly eight months after making international news when lions, leopards, tigers, and other wild animals were set loose on the Zanesville countryside, Ohio has its first law restricting ownership of such creatures.

Private acquisition or transfer of animals such as this tiger at Stump Hill Farm in Massillon, Ohio, would be prohibited under the law. Current owners may keep animals if they comply with new rules.

Gov. John Kasich signed a law Tuesday that would, beginning in 2014, bar individuals from acquiring or transferring ownership of wild animals including bears, big cats, crocodiles, elephants, and most apes. Current owners could keep their animals if they acquire state permits and comply with new rules on caging, insurance, and other restrictions.

The law allows but restricts acquisition, ownership, and breeding of constricting snakes longer than 12 feet, including anacondas and pythons, as well as certain poisonous snakes.

In the meantime, owners of such animals would have to register them with the state within 60 days of the law’s effective date. The law will take effect in 90 days.

“Those 38 hours, I’ll never forget. I dream about it … ” Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, said of that night in Zanesville as law enforcement shot the animals to protect the public.

“This wasn’t just the state of Ohio — everyone,” he said. “It wasn’t just the United States. This is the world watching. What you’re setting here is precedent for those states that have no laws as well. God forbid that anything would ever happen in those states.”

Opponents of the law have argued that it goes too far, punishing responsible animal owners because of the misdeeds of a few and trampling on individual property rights.

Read more:-http://www.toledoblade.com/State/2012/06/05/Kasich-to-sign-new-rules-for-exotic-animal-owners-into-law.html

Cyndi Huntsman, owner and president of Stump Hill Farm in Massillon, said the law will put the nonprofit organization — with some 300 lions, camels, tigers, birds, bears, reptiles, and other animals — out of business. She is accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture but not the two zoological associations that can lead to exemptions under the law.

Ohio to return wild animals to family that allowed panic escape

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“Talk about another accident waiting to happen…are they crazy??”

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) – Five wild animals will soon be returned to the widow of a man who released them into the Ohio countryside last year, state officials said on Monday, raising concerns of a repeat of the panic that gripped the state when dozens of beasts including lions, tigers and bears roamed free. 

Seven months after Terry Thompson released 56 exotic animals near Zanesville, Ohio, and then committed suicide, the Ohio legislature still is struggling to draft regulations on wild animal ownership. Ohio is one of only a handful of states with no restrictions on exotic animal ownership.

The state Agriculture Department said on Monday it had no legal way to prevent the five remaining animals – a spotted leopard, a black leopard, two Celebes Macaquemonkeys and a brown bear – from being given back to Thompson’s widow, Marilyn.

She has said she will take them back to the farm and put them in the cages they fled last October.

“This raises concerns, as she has indicated the cages have not been repaired, and has repeatedly refused to allow animal welfare experts to evaluate if conditions are safe for the animals and sufficient to prevent them from escaping and endangering the community,” the Agriculture Department said.

The agency said the only hope of preventing their return to the Thompson family within 24 hours from the Columbus Zoo is for the county Humane Society to seek a court order to inspect the farm.

“Until then we can only hope that local officials choose to act to prevent another tragedy,” the Agriculture Department said.

The local Humane Society could not immediately be reached for comment.

After Thompson, who had been charged with animal cruelty 11 times since 2004, released the lions, tigers and other wild animals last October, law enforcement officials had to go on a big game hunt. Authorities warned residents to stay inside while they killed 49 of the 56 animals.

Six were captured and sent to the Columbus Zoo but one spotted leopard later died there. Another animal was presumed eaten by others and was never accounted for.

The surviving animals have been held at the Columbus Zoo.

The state Senate passed a bill last week that would ban Ohio residents from buying lions, tigers, bears,elephants, wolves, alligators, crocodiles, and certain kinds of monkeys as pets, unless they follow strict guidelines.

Existing owners of wild animals can keep them if they follow the new rules, which include permit fees, registration and constructing proper facilities. The Ohio House may not vote on the measure until the end of May.

News Link:- http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-30/news/sns-rt-us-usa-animals-ohiobre83t0wx-20120430_1_wild-animals-animal-cruelty-ohio-house

 

Leopard crushed at zoo, euthanized | The Columbus Dispatch

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One of the surviving exotic animals from Terry Thompson’s Zanesville farm has died, crushed by a gate at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

The leopard was one of six animals owned by Thompson that the zoo has been housing since October under a quarantine order by the Department of Agriculture. Leopard killed in accident at Zoo

Zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters said a zookeeper was preparing to feed the leopard and clean its cage when the incident occurred. The keeper moved the animal into a neighboring enclosure and pulled the lever that lowers the gate between the two enclosures. As the gate went down, the leopard darted beneath it and was struck on its neck.

The animal’s heart stopped, but the zookeeper restarted it with chest compressions. An examination determined that the leopard’s spinal cord was injured, and state veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey made the decision to euthanize the animal.

via Leopard crushed at zoo, euthanized | The Columbus Dispatch.

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