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Judge backs Ohio’s exotic animal rules

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge upheld Ohio’s new restrictions on exotic animals on Thursday after several owners sued the state over the law, which was enacted after a man released dozens of his wild creatures including lions and tigers last year and then committed suicide.

US District Court Judge George Smith in Columbus sided with the state, saying the court recognizes some businesses may be negatively ­affected and some owners may not be able to keep their beloved animals but the owners failed to prove constitutional rights were violated.

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The court said the case came down to the public interest and protecting the public from potential dangers of ­exotic animals.

The seven owners who sued the state were disappointed by the decision and plan to ­appeal, said their attorney, Robert Owens.

Those owners said the new regulations force them to join private associations and possibly give up their animals without compensation. They also challenged a requirement that animals be implanted with ­microchips before being registered with the state, so the creatures can be identified if they get lost or escape.

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