One year ago: 56 exotic animals on the loose in Zanesville, prom - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

One year ago: 56 exotic animals on the loose in Zanesville, prompting new laws

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It has been one year Thursday, since dozens of exotic animals were released by their owner, causing an entire city to go into "lock down mode."

This bizarre event has propelled a very controversial bill through state legislature not only in Ohio, but in West Virginia as well.

On October 18, 2011, Terry Thompson released 56 exotic animals from his refuge, before taking his life.

Lions, tigers, bears, wolves and monkeys roaming around the streets of Zanesville, shutting down schools, prompting highway warning signs and paralyzing an entire city.

Many of the animals had to be shot and killed by authorities, in all 48, including 18 endangered Bengal tigers.

Deputies say they had no choice but to put the animals down to protect the public.

This shocking incident prompted almost immediate action by Ohio state legislators who worked to push laws regarding exotic animals in the state. Ohio was known to have some of the weakest regulations on owning exotic animals in the nation.

The measure, which went into effect in September 2012, now requires exotic animal owners to have liability insurance and pass safety inspections.

It also bans people from buying lions, leopards and other dangerous animals.

Current owners are able to keep animals like bears and alligators, as long as they register them with the state by November 5th, 2012. They will get a state-issued permit by 2014 showing they can adhere to the strict new standards.

Ohio's actions regarding new laws have also prompted legislators in neighboring states to introduce similar bills. In West Virginia, a bill preventing residents from owning exotic animals was introduced in the Senate in February.

The bill was vetoed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in April, due to concerns by the Division of Natural Resources regarding funding and enforcement.

Marian Thomspon, Terry's widow, has now regained custody of five of the animals that survived the escape: two leopards, two primates and a bear.

They spent time at the Columbus Zoo under quarantine to ensure they did not suffer from dangerous or infectious diseases.