Hanna urges tough Ohio rules on exotic animals

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Jack Hanna has urged a state panel to draw up strict rules for owning exotic animals in Ohio, where a man set loose more than 50 beasts last week and then killed himself -- but the TV personality has stopped short of advocating a complete ban.

Hanna, the former Columbus Zoo director, said he told a working committee during its closed-door meeting on Monday that Ohio must make sure that what just happened never happens again. Police killed dozens of the released animals while schools closed and motorists were warned to stay in their vehicles.

Hanna told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/rNHF1R ) that his message was: "No more lions and tigers and bears as pets."

On Friday, Gov. John Kasich ordered a temporary crackdown on private ownership of exotic wild animals. The study committee has until Nov. 30 to draft permanent legislation, with one more meeting scheduled next week.

Kasich said Tuesday that Hanna has told him there may need to be exceptions to a complete ban.

"What Jack Hanna's told me is you may have some breeders, you may have some circumstances where it's legitimate for somebody to have it, but they clearly have to be qualified, they have to be certified," Kasich told reporters after a public appearance.

The Republican governor said he has difficulty comprehending exotic animal ownership.

"I have a really hard time understanding why somebody ought to have a grizzly bear on their private compound, or lions or Bengal tigers. I just don't get it, but it's a complicated issue," he said.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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