COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 26 (UPI) -- The Ohio Senate voted 30-1 to restrict ownership of exotic wild animals in the wake of an October incident in which 48 escaped animals were hunted and killed.
After six angry hearings at which private owners of exotic animals expressed their disapproval of the proposal, claiming restrictions and insurance regulations would deny them the opportunity to keep the animals in private zoos and sanctuaries, the heavily amended bill passed in the Senate Wednesday, The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday.
The measure now moves to the Ohio House.
The prime sponsor of the bill, Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville, called it "a good balance between public safety and the preservation of personal property."
Sen. Lou Gentile of Steubenville offered his support because "we never want our law enforcement or the public in that situation again," a reference to the October suicide of animal owner Terry Thompson, who freed his collection of lions, tigers, bears, wolves and monkeys from his Muskingum County property before his death. Police hunted and killed the animals to protect the public.
While current owners can keep their wild animals and other exotic species under a complex set of regulations, the bill proscribes the sale, beginning in 2014, of lions, tigers, bears, elephants and snakes more than 12 feet long. There are exemptions, including service monkeys and a "single dangerous wild animal as a sports mascot," which applies only to Obie the tiger cub, Massillon Washington High School's emblem, the newspaper said.