Restrict Exotic Animals in W.Va.

Wests Virginia is one of just five states that have no restrictions on ownership of exotic animals – tigers, bears, cobras and the like. That could be setting us up for a repeat of what happened near Zanesville, Ohio, about two years ago.

There, the owner of an exotic animal “preserve” set 56 creatures free before shooting himself in the head. Lions, tigers, bears, leopards and wolves were among the animals let out of their cages.

Within hours, 48 of the animals were killed. Law enforcement officials had no choice but to kill them, to protect the public.

Since then, Ohio has enacted what appears to be a good set of limits on ownership of exotic animals.

Mountain State lawmakers are being urged to follow suit. They should, during the legislative session early next year. Failure to do so would be asking for trouble for both exotic animals and the public.