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State Board Approves Funding For Exotic Animal Facility

The state is moving forward with the construction of a facility to hold confiscated exotic animals. The Ohio Controlling Board on Monday approved the Department of Agriculture’s request for $3.5 million. That money will go toward constructing and running a building to house bears, lions, snakes and other exotic animals. For more than half an hour, the Agriculture Director fielded questions from the board. “What does a facility that would house 40 to 60 big cats actually mean in the scope of things if there are potentially 3- to 5-thousand exotic animals out there within the state of Ohio?â€? asked Rep. Jay Hottinger. Ag Director David Daniels says the facility is meant to be a temporary home for the animals. “I do think that a facility of 40 to 60 animals will give us the ability, if we would get an influx on the first few months of this, that while we have identified some different sanctuaries available and spots available, we would look to move those on rather quickly, and we hope that that as far as a transitional period would be certainly sufficient," Daniels said. In the end, only one of the seven on the Controlling Board objected to the request. Rep. Vernon Sykes wanted to wait until the next meeting. “I think that to delay for two weeks is not unreasonable. We have the media here, it’s more attention to this issue, the public’s gonna be more aware of it, and we’ll have an opportunity at least to get a good explanation of what’s going on," Sykes said. Ohio already owns the land behind the Department of Agriculture’s headquarters in Licking County. Construction is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.