Senate Bill 310, sponsored by Sen. Troy Balderson, got its first hearing Wednesday, and exotic animal owners learned the requirements will include liability insurance of up to $1 million, fees between $500 and $2,000 depending on the number of animals kept, and implantation of microchips to aid in capture in the event of escape.
Carol Bohning of Johnstown, Ohio, who keeps cougars, bobcats and monkeys at her Butternut Farm Wildcat Sanctuary, said the proposals amount to a ban, due to the costs and the likely unavailability of insurance, she told the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch after the hearing.
The bill also prohibits the buying and selling of exotic animals in Ohio, with exceptions made for public zoos and other sanctioned entities, and comes as a response to an October incident in Zanesville, when a man freed his collection of animals before committing suicide.
Balderson pointed out the state has "no laws to govern the ownership of animals such as lions, tigers and primates," calling the situation "entirely unacceptable."
The Humane Society of the United States pointed out in a newspaper advertisement Wednesday that Ohio is one of seven states without rules governing ownership of exotic animals.