An Iowa official says it’s unlikely an incident like the Zanesville, Ohio wild animal massacre could happen in Iowa. Assistant State Veterinarian Randy Wheeler says the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Iowa Ag Department have much more stringent laws that prohibit ownership of dangerous wild animals unless it’s a zoo or wildlife sanctuary.

There are only a handful of such facilities in Iowa and they are inspected at least once a year. “They are under the scrutiny of the USDA and then if we get a complaint or a concern, we collaborate and work with the USDA to make sure conditions fit the standard of care and other regulations,” Wheeler said.

There are exemptions for someone who owned the exotic animal before 2007, but Wheeler says they must follow a long list of restrictions.

The owner must have a veterinarian’s statement, pay a fee, provide liability insurance and post a warning sign. The owner must also be at least 18 years of age and cannot have a felony on their record.”

Wheeler says because the Ohio man had federal charges against him, he would not have been able to have such a facility in Iowa. Nearly 50 animals – including lions, tigers and bears – were shot to death after the man opened the animal’s cages and then took his own life. Currently, Ohio has regulations on breeders or exhibitors that require owners to have a health certificate for each animal and they need to have a certificate of inspection by a veterinarian.

There is no mention about how often the facilities are required to be inspected.