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Ohio eyes exotic animal ownership rules

Oct. 25, 2011 at 4:58 PM   |   Comments

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- TV host Jack Hanna, a former director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, has called for strict controls on ownership of exotic animals in Ohio.

Hanna called for outlawing people from keeping exotic animals as pets and for tougher rules for other owners.

"No more lions and tigers and bears as pets," Hanna told The Columbus Dispatch after a meeting of a state committee deciding whether to ban private ownership of exotic animals in the state.

Hanna, the host of "Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown," spoke to the committee, formed in June at the direction of Gov. John Kasich, during a 4-hour, closed meeting Monday.

Hanna referred to the release last week of 56 animals, including bears, lions, tigers, leopards, wolves and monkeys by Terry Thompson of Zanesville, who kept exotic animals on his rural property for years and fatally shot himself after freeing them. Law enforcement officers shot and kill 48 of the wild animals, with others taken to the Columbus Zoo.

"All eyes are on Ohio," Hanna said he told the committee. "The world is watching, and we need to have something in place so this never happens again."

While not calling for a ban on ownership of exotic animals, Hanna said strict controls are necessary.

The committee, which has only one more meeting scheduled, hasn't decided whether to ban ownership of exotic animals. But the Dispatch said a proposal has been made to prohibit private ownership except for existing owners, who would be allowed to keep the exotic animals under a grandfather clause.

Kasich last week gave the committee a Nov. 30 deadline for submitting a legislative proposal.

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