95 percent of ancient Ohio was forested. But centuries ago there were also small regions of prairie. Tall grasses and wildflowers were part of the prairie ecology and so were bison. Researchers near Columbus are trying to reestablish a prairie / bison ecosystem.
State Exotic Animal Facility All Set
The facility equipped to house exotic animals confiscated from owners who do not meet the new state requirements opened Monday in Reynoldsburg.
Ohio Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said the 20,000 square foot, steel-sided building has 30 large cages, as well as smaller ones to accommodates reptiles and primates. The building also has layers of security which includes video cameras.
â€œThe building is surrounded by a 12-foot fence with a 4-foot cantilever that has barbed wire and hot wire around it,” Hawkins said. “And then the entire property is surrounded by a 6-foot perimeter fence.â€
The facility, which cost about $3 million to construct, was a result of a state law which requires exotic animal owners to register them.
The law was prompted after a Terry Thompson released dozens of exotic animals, including lions, from his Zanesville farm in October 2011. Most of the animals were killed.
Hawkins said the cost to run the facility will depend on what kind of animals and how many are housed during each occasion. State workers will have little involvement with the animalsâ€™ care.
â€œWe actually will be contracting with one of the local zoos to provide the care for the animals on a twice-daily basis, and then extremely limited ODA staff as necessary.â€
The facility, she said, will be staffed as needed.
â€œIt was designed to be able to shut down when itâ€™s not in use,” Hawkins said.
There were no animals at the facility when it opened.