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For Immediate Release: 10/21/11

Born Free USA Ready to Work with Ohio Governor, Offers Model Legislation on Exotic Pet Ownership Following Today’s Executive Order

In the wake of this week’s Zanesville, OH, wild animal tragedy, today Ohio Gov. John Kasich issued Executive Order 2011-20K, which makes commitments that include working with local humane societies, law enforcement and public officials to approach the issue of regulating ownership of private exotics; rigorously reviewing existing native wild animal permits and auctions; shutting down unlicensed auctions; and confiscating and re-homing exotic animals who have been abused or are kept in substandard conditions.

Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, and an active voice on this issue throughout this week as the incident unfolded, is committed to helping the governor in any way possible.

Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA and an expert on exotic animal laws in the United States, said, “Born Free USA appreciates that Gov. Kasich has spoken to the issue, although we are disappointed that his executive order did not definitively restrict or prohibit ownership of potentially dangerous exotic wild animals. That said, we stand ready to work with his office and the Legislature in the coming month to create the best law possible for the state. We have model legislation to offer and all our expertise to put on the table.”

Born Free USA previously conducted an investigation into the captive ownership of exotic animals in Ohio and the results were alarming.

“What we saw this week should never, ever happen again,” Roberts said this week. “It is our job to stop this madness, protect animals, and keep the public safe. Wild animals belong in the wild. This was a recipe for disaster — and a disaster it was. These animals were innocent victims and we must move forward to protect others.”

Born Free USA tracks exotic animal incidents through its online database designed as a resource for the media, lawmakers, activists and the public to help shed light on the magnitude of the issue. The database lists some 1,600 attacks and incidents reported that have occurred since 1990, searchable by state, species, and keyword, and includes a map graphic marking each location — a shocking visual to illustrate how geographically widespread the problem is.

Every year, captive exotic animals — kept in zoos, circuses or as private “pets” — are involved in incidents that result in human injury or death. Keeping any wild animals in captivity is inherently cruel, as it deprives them of the ability to freely engage in instinctual behaviors in their natural environment.

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, BFUSA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and destructive international wildlife trade. BFUSA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession. BFUSA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation,” the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will, now CEO of both organizations. BFUSA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, (203) 270-8929; rodicompany@earthlink.net.

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