Exotic Animals

OHIO GOV. John Kasich is on a roll.

For the second time in less than a week Kasich has signed into law much-needed and common-sense legislation. Just days after inking a texting ban bill, Kasich signed into law Tuesday a bill we fully support.

This one places new regulations on exotic animals. It was fueled by the nightmare that played out near Zanesville this past fall.

The legislation has even drawn the backing of celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna. He had been critical of the Ohio Legislature for not swiftly passing new regulations.

That is all in the past now.

Kasich acknowledged the lax rules. “Ohio was really the wild, wild West,” Kasich said. “We had virtually no rules and no regulations in terms of all this.”

Wild, wild West may be a bit far fetched, but Ohio was living in the dark ages when it came to overseeing exotic animals. That came to light in October, when Terry Thompson released 50 animals – including black bears, mountain lions and Bengal tigers – from his eastern Ohio farm in Muskingum County before he committed suicide. Authorities were forced to kill almost all of the animals.

That tragedy has spawned something positive.

The measure, which takes effect on Sept. 3, will prohibit people from buying new and dangerous exotic animals.

Current owners can keep their creatures by registering them with the state within 60 days of the law’s effective date. Owners also must obtain a new state-issued permit by 2014 and adhere to strict new caretaking standards and inspections.

Hanna changed his tune after the bill’s signing, now praising lawmakers.

“What you’re setting here is a precedent for those states that have no laws as well,” Hanna said. “I am very proud of Ohio.”

We commend Ohio’s lawmakers and Kasich for making the Buckeye State a safer place to live and work. The new tougher restrictions were needed and long overdue.

Should another problem arise with exotic animals, it will not be for a lack of oversight.