Wild Animals on the Loose

Debate grows over private ownership of exotic animals.
3:00 | 10/21/11

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Transcript for Wild Animals on the Loose
This week. I'm Brian Ross investigates the wild. Animals on the lose they're growing controversy. Over the private ownership of exotic animal. Monkey business we take another look at the undercover investigation that exposes the illicit trade of pet monkeys and examines. -- public health hazards that may look behind those big brown. -- Ross investigates. Thanks for joining us I'm Brian Ross in New York. The dangers of private citizens owning wild animals was once again in the spotlight this week. After a man who owned a wildlife preserve in Zanesville Ohio said dozens of creatures lose before killing himself. At least 49 -- -- -- lions wolves and bears. Put down by local law enforcement officers in an effort to prevent the animals from attacking people -- This bizarre and tragic incident. Came amidst a growing controversy in the state sparked by the fatal mauling of a young man last year at the private -- where He worked as a caretaker. Since then animal rights activist and the victim's parents have been lobbying the governor and state lawmakers to pass new laws restricting the private ownership of exotic animals across Ohio. At the epicenter of the debate is Tim Harris. Dayton based animal rights activists and retired police officer. Who's been on a 37 year long crusade to educate people about the dangers of owning wild animals as household. -- captured and rescued hundreds of lions tigers bears alligators and snakes running -- across the country. His experiences were documented in the recently released film elephant in the -- And company -- Dayton where I was called -- I'm very unusual and dangerous. Call for a fourth six year old former. -- found an unusual -- in the garage. And I thought it was a -- it's budget and a walk into the garage and myself although much of its still a low voice I'm back from off. -- -- Some -- -- trashed it back. Home embedded with the un viable from Africa among the most dangerous snakes in the world for the world's longest match. About had a -- bless -- all its. Kids are carrying a snake around -- neck. Reporter on the ground driving a car and -- -- about. -- couldn't believe it. -- -- joins me now via Skype in Ohio -- -- that's quite a scene there -- that -- -- that's very dangerous animals my -- off -- trading those classified ads locally. Got -- viper with the world's longest -- and after. What drives people who want to have these dangerous exotic animals. -- -- reason to get the one thing it's as you see in the -- -- in order to actually see points or exotic animal auction. People walking out some of the most dangerous creatures all the -- everything from deadly venomous snakes to hyenas. The people get these animals a lot of times the United States of America -- -- a salon -- -- organized its American people -- bring the most dangerous exotic animals and their homes. They believe what they see on these reality TV shows that these things -- -- surgically altered animals -- -- animals. You know -- start truly acting like they normally would. When you get minimal outsider governor Robert Rose to be about 200 pounds it doesn't need you anymore -- sexually mature at its action -- -- actually come out. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And you're not a psychiatrist who what do you think drives people want to have that kind of danger in the living. A lot of people lived through their animals they actually believe that they are Wolfe -- Walter there the tiger -- present the movie charity -- see the lion man I can He actually looks like. You know cowardly lion on the it was a botched the extra start looking like -- -- And state by state the laws vary greatly you're fighting an Ohio try to ban this kind of exotic animal ownership. Yes in every state it's different but we do have about. Up thirteen 1213 states don't have anything at all so we have to need to change that right away we need some kind of regularity regulations -- they're -- common sense. But you can buy a -- -- but you can't buy the Constance. We need to have somebody to step in and say man it's not right -- tiger -- and a in his suburban area. And now people don't realize the state of Ohio we did have the loss we -- -- in effect. You know -- get bigger trial run autumn the new governor came in governor -- sick and dropped the laws so now it's the wild wild western state of Ohio as you saw here this disaster to happen here in -- So as a sense now in Ohio anybody -- any kind of animal there's no law against it. Absolutely and out to some of the cities that I felt that in like Dayton Ohio Cleveland places like that it's illegal happened in the city. But only got to do is go one block outside the city are good governor says it's okay to have anything you want -- to -- and selling the -- So what is the market like -- -- you find a tiger or cougar or -- venomous snake. That's good question it's easy to get on the Internet you'll do yourself a dangerous -- -- cobra never to your house within 24 to 48 hours. It'll fly actually in -- underneath your -- but people flying on commercial airlines that's how they bring events. If you want a big Jack is going to be exotic able auctions on the well are you had to do show up. -- dramatic walk out with a tiger. And what about for the animals we think about the human risk for the animals and take of that let's not a great life. No just -- about that -- placed an occasional wild animals should be running three. Besides that -- percent of these outlet out rescued animals most of their physical abnormalities people aboard sped big jets chicken. It also turned in their bones are structured properly. Most resembles have to be put down you know it's just -- so if -- -- -- these animals please do not love -- the death Lieberman while. And is that part of the people do feel like kind of love -- -- man nature kind of cooperative venture there. Yeah I believe in our hearts -- believing they're connecting you know connecting with nature as well you don't see this in Africa with native people there -- in Australia places like that they live with these kind of animals. They respect -- we've lost respect the United States of America that's why my organization -- -- -- was started. It's because we had to teach people proper behavior around while life because they nobody out TV -- -- Nobody shot -- But this is a phenomenon that does continue. Yes it does it -- -- -- will be able to stop them. You know by getting legislation and law stating it's illegal to own -- sell dangerous exotic animals and -- and not get -- and copies. -- big -- things of that nature crocodiles in a venomous snakes. You know what it would outlaw that 80% of the population I'm a retired police officer firefighter paramedic. And the thing is 80% of the population to exactly what the law say. Tim Harrison thank you very much for being with us today -- appreciate it thank you -- -- When we come back the animal on the world encore look for the 20/20 undercover investigation.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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