COLUMBUS, Ohio — Proposed legislation in Ohio would ban the purchase of lions, bears, gorillas and other exotic animals, but it also would allow current owners of such animals to keep the pets if they meet strict new requirements.

Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville sent a letter Friday afternoon to state lawmakers, asking them to sign on to his proposal. He plans to introduce the bill Tuesday, and hearings are planned next week.

Zoo, circuses and research facilities would be exempt from the ban.

Efforts to strengthen the state's law took on new urgency in October when authorities were forced to kill 48 wild animals — including endangered Bengal tigers — after their owner freed them from his Zanesville farm and then committed suicide.