Exotic Animals Being Shipped Out of Ohio

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ASHLAND, Ohio — The passage of a new law through the Ohio Senate on Wednesday is the first step in cracking down on the private ownership of exotic animals in the state.

The law proposes a ban on new ownership of exotics and would place more severe restrictions on existing owners including expensive insurance requirements and steep registration fees.

The requirements are a reaction to the intentional release of 48 exotic animals including bears, tigers and lions from a sanctuary near Zanesville last October.

Even before the law gets through the state house and on to the governor for his signature, Denise Flores of the Tiger paw Exotic Rescue Center near Ashland has already started sending some of her exotic cats out of the state.

“I kept reading what they were presenting,” said Flores on Thursday.

Flores has kept as many as eight big cats, mostly tigers, at her rescue. Several of them were left to her in the trust of Columbia Station exotic animal owner Sam Mazzola after he died last July.

She worries that although the new law might allow existing owners to keep their cats, doing so could become too costly.

“That’s how they get you, in your pocket over and above the veterinary care and the food bill here and the care of the cats there would be other things like insurance and fees to register them and micro-chipping and I just don’t think it would have been financially possible for us to comply and if you can’t do that I was afraid that the cats would either be euthanized or confiscated,” she told Fox 8 on Thursday.

Flores has already sent one tiger and a cougar to the Wild Cat Haven in Oregon. Another two of the animals will be going there next month.

“She’s going to Oregon, and she likes her toys and she can have a great enclosure to run around in and play.” said Flores of a white tiger she has nursed back to health from at her rescue.

Flores, whose rescue is certified and inspected every three months, does not agree with a complete ban. She believes that takes away individual freedom and would have liked to see legislators allow ownership for people who can prove they are capable of safely caring for the animals.

The Tiger Paw Exotic Rescue center will still have four tigers, the oldest of those still there.

“It’s a good thing in one way, but it seems like, it was just they want to be rid of the problem,” said Flores.

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