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Victory: Ohio Governor Signs Dangerous Wild Animal Act into Law!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 10:15am

Finally! Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed the Dangerous Wild Animal Act into law. The Ohio House of Representatives passed the bill 87-9 on May 22, and the Ohio Senate passed it 30-1 in April. With the Ohio governor’s signature, only six states——Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina and Wisconsin—have little to no restrictions on the private possession of dangerous wild animals.

The bill comes into law about seven months after 56 exotic animals—including lions, tigers, wolves and bears—escaped a Zanesville, Ohio farm. The farm's owner, Terry Thompson, reportedly freed the animals before committing suicide. Nearly all the animals were shot dead as they roamed the city streets.

"We commend Governor Kasich for recognizing the need to regulate dangerous exotic animals and ensuring the safety of Ohio residents, as well as the health and well-being of wild animals kept as pets," says Nancy Perry, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Government Relations.

The new law will:

  • Ban new ownership of dangerous wild animals, including big cats, some smaller exotic cats, bears, hyenas, gray wolves, non-human primate species, alligators and crocodiles in Ohio;
  • Grandfather in existing animals so people who currently have them can keep them, as long as they obtain a permit;
  • Require owners of exotic animals covered under the grandfather clause to acquire liability insurance or surety bonds ranging from $200,000 to $1 million;
  • Require existing owners of exotic animals to comply with housing and safety standards to be established by the Ohio Department of Agriculture; and
  •  Require owners of existing exotic animals to pass criminal background checks to qualify for a permit.  

For more information about the exotic pet trade, please visit our Fight Animal Cruelty section. 

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Renee Maser

What about the rights that the animals have not to be kept where they don't belong in the first place? There also must be some strict monitoring of the conditions in which these animals are being kept. This would help to ensure that they are properly cared for, and not subjected to animal cruelty.


Did you read the part about how existing owners will need a permit and be subject to thorough background checks before being issued permits? Existing owners will also be required to carry liability insurance. It's a step in the right direction.

Dana Fillion

I totally agree with this. It was my first thought also, as I read on.

Carina Pereira\

GOOD job....! Thank you!


I am a firm believer WILD ANIMALS need to stay in the WILD. I live in Wisconsin and our leaders need to follow this law. Are you listening Scott Walker????

Recognizing the need to regulate dangerous exotic animals was a great decision that the Governor made. I also think that should be a law that require Dog owners to protect their Dogs while traveling with then in cars.

This is no 'victory', it's just an easy attack on people with alternative lifestyles. Please educate yourselves.


Exotic animals and wild animals should never be owned by anyone person,Unless it by a zoo or someplace like the wilds where they preserve them from extinction and have them in a area made just for them.They was born and meant to be roaming free, and to add beauty to this earth not to be in cages and in human hands because they add a sense of suspence to someones life.


Unfortunatly, emotions rather than tolerance seem to rule on this issue. While I will agree that owners of dangerous wild animals should be REGULATED, banning new ownership all together does not seem like the right thing to do either. Our government should not have the authority to dictate what animals can and can't be owned any more than they can tell me what Church (or Temple or Mosque) to worship at, or what words to use in a speech. It should be counted as a fundamental right of freedom. However, that is not to say that new owners should not have to pay to be licensed and inspected and attend training with a qualified owner/expert BEFORE owning such an animal. That is what is done in falconry, and it works very well. Everyone should remember that at one time cuddly Fluffy (your adorable cat) and faithful Rover (your loyal dog) had ancestors that were wild saber toothed cats and wolves. They were taken as cubs and raised by humans as pets and became our constant companions. Should we return them to their wild roots as well? They wouldn't last a single day. Likewise, I have personally seen adult tigers, lions, and chimpanzees that craved human interaction and love. Every animal is different just like every human is different. Rather than ban them completely, I think we should regulate and educate potential owners to keep a tragedy from happening again.


I agree with this. I have seen "wild" animals that not only crave human interaction but actively seek it out. I think that it should have been stricter regulations on the humans, not on the animals. I personally would love to have wolves at some point. When I have the time and the space and the money to care for them properly.