Wednesday 13 June 2012

Ohio Restrictions on Private Captive Wildlife Programs

Ohian legislators have responded to the horrifying carnage of wild animals, including large wild cats, at Zanesville, Ohio. It is referred to as the Zanesville massacre. It occurred on October 19, 2011. It was the classic, private zoo disaster waiting to happen and it could happen again. Neither do I believe it was a freak event.

The silver lining to come out of this very sad story is that legislation backed by HSUS was introduced into Ohio's state legislature and has been passed and become law. It was a speedy bit of law making prompted by the shock of the event.

Of course, keepers of exotic cats etc. were against it. It is one more piece of legislation that erodes the freedoms of Americans to indulge their passion for interacting with exotic animals. The trouble is that ultimately it is an indulgent hobby (it does not pay). And to be brutally honest I don't think it does anything or hardly anything for conservation although the benefits to conservation is the argument used by keepers of exotic animals for doing it. Personally, I don't go with that argument which is why I support more legislation that restricts people's freedoms. This is unfortunate but sadly people do need to be managed to a certain extent because not everyone acts responsibly.

Since the 1980s there has been an explosion in wildlife breeding. That is one reason why it became a risk to both public and the animals. Ohio had some of the weakest laws on the keeping of exotic 'pets'. This is how some so called 'conservationists' relate to their dangerous wild animals.

What sort of restrictions will soon be in place? And how will this impact privately owned captive wildlife programs?


I will summarize because people involved in keeping captive wildlife will read the legislation carefully, while those outside it don't want boring legal details.

The new restrictions appear to be concerned with 'dangerous exotic animals'. People who already keep them can still do so. But they will have to apply for a permit by January 1st 2014 and their application is not going to be a walkover. The cost of permits range from $250-$1,000. Insurance cover might have to be in the region of a quarter of a million dollars to one million with the premiums that that brings to the owner.

On September 3rd 2012, when the law comes into effect, the trade in exotic animals will be banned with a few exceptions. Approximately 640 species are wild animal fall under the new law.

Wild animals classified as dangerous include: lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs. There are exemptions for genuine sanctuaries, zoos and research institutions for instance.


I'll have to refer to what Lynn Culver the Executive Director of the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) says, which is that privately owned captive wildlife in Ohio will be extremely rare in the future. People who want to get into wildlife ownership and breeding will now be critically scrutinised, or should be, by the USDA. They will need proven skills and knowledge. The FCF run courses that will help. There is no doubt that the laissez-faire days of letting people buy lions for peanuts are over. People should consider applying for ZAA (Zoological Association of America)  accreditation as they register breeders and apparently they have an exemption.

People's energies and love of wild cats etc. should be channeled into true wildlife conservation in the wild as practiced by people like Jim Sanderson PhD (Andean Mountain Cat and other species) and the Snow Leopard Trust. They both run fantastic conservation programmes.

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