The Ohio incident that had more than 50 wild animals such as tigers, bears and lions roaming the streets after their collector’s suicide has prompted new scrutiny over exotic animal laws around the country. D.C. and Maryland already have strict bans on the ownership of such creatures, and in Maryland the fine for keeping such animals is $1,500 unless they operate a zoo. In Virginia, the laws are less stringent, allowing the ownership of lions or tigers with a permit. Enforcement of permits is lax, however, and Virginia currently has no regulations concerning primates.
Human Society director Laura Donahue highlighted this oversight, saying, “They should not be private pets for regular citizens who really have no means of ensuring decent enclosure and appropriate care.” Governor Bob McDonnell responded to the Humane Society with a written statement. “In the wake of [Wednesday’s] tragic situation in Ohio, the administration will look further into the laws in the commonwealth regarding this issue.”