Can you own tigers in Ohio? What you need to know after police search for a big cat

Cincinnati police were searching near the University of Cincinnati early Monday after someone reported seeing what looked like a tiger, officials said.

The sighting was reported around 3:05 a.m. and no new big cat sightings have been reported to police since then, Lt. Jonathan Cunningham said.

Cunningham said officers checked the area but found nothing. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden spokesperson Michelle Curley also said both tigers “are safe and sound and at the zoo.”

It is unclear whether this was just a false alarm or not. But here’s a look at Ohio law and whether individuals can own a tiger.

Can you own a tiger in Ohio?

No, it has been illegal for individuals to own, trade or sell tigers and other dangerous wildlife in Ohio since Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 in 2012, which regulates the ownership of dangerous wildlife in the state.

Exceptions to the law may arise if the animal was owned before the law went into effect and the Ohio Department of Agriculture issued a permit.

What Animals Are Illegal in Ohio?

Tigers aren’t the only dangerous wild animals included in Senate Bill 310. Possession of the following animals is also prohibited:

  • Hyenas.
  • Gray wolves, excluding hybrids.
  • Lions.
  • Jaguars.
  • Leopards including clouded leopards, Sunda clouded leopards and snow leopards.
  • Cheetahs.
  • Lynxes, including Canada lynx, Eurasian lynx and Iberian lynx.
  • Cougars, also known as cougars or mountain lions.
  • Caracals.
  • Servals, excluding hybrids with domestic cats, are commonly known as savannah cats.
  • Bears.
  • Elephants.
  • Rhinos.
  • Hippos.
  • Cape buffalo.
  • African wild dogs.
  • Komodo dragons.
  • Alligators.
  • Crocodiles.
  • Caimans, with the exception of dwarf caimans.
  • Gharials.
  • Non-human primates excluding lemurs and the non-human primates specified in the Ohio Revised Code.
  • Gold Lion, Black Face Lion, Gold Trunk Lion, Cotton Top, Emperor, Saddleback, Black Mantle and Geoffroy’s Tamarins.
  • Southern and northern night monkeys.
  • Dark titi and masked titi monkeys.
  • Muriquis.
  • Goeldi’s monkeys.
  • White face, black beard, white nose beard and monk sakis.
  • Bald and black uakaris.
  • Black-handed, white-bellied, brown-headed and black spider monkeys.
  • Common woolly monkeys.
  • Red, black and mantled howler monkeys.

When Do You Not Need a Permit to Own a Dangerous Wild Animal in Ohio?

There are unique circumstances in which an Ohio Department of Agriculture permit is not necessary to possess a dangerous wild animal. Here’s a closer look.

  • Accredited zoos and aquariums.
  • An accredited facility of the Zoological Association of America.
  • Research facilities, as defined in the federal Animal Welfare Act.
  • Research facilities accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International.
  • USDA licensed circuses.
  • Veterinarians who provide temporary care.
  • Animal sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
  • Individuals traveling through the state for 48 hours or less. However, they are not allowed to exhibit the animals or bring them into public spaces.
  • Educational institutions that display a single dangerous wild animal as a mascot.
  • Persons or facilities that hold certain permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
  • Service spider monkey trained by a non-profit organization.
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