June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Ohio exotic animal preserve leased for gas drilling

COLUMBUS — The expected boom in natural gas drilling could extend to the Wilds, an outdoor exotic animal preserve operated by a consortium of zoos in eastern Ohio.

The nearly 10,000 acre park on reclaimed mine land has some traditional gas wells but none that use a process where chemical-laced water is blasted into shale to release natural gas.

The Columbus Dispatch reported today that Columbus-based American Electric Power leased mineral rights below the preserve to Anadarko Petroleum last year.

The leasing was part of a bigger deal giving Texas-based Anadarko access to 150,000 acres of AEP-owned mineral rights in eastern Ohio.

The Columbus Zoo, which operates the Wilds, was not aware the lease had been signed, while AEP and Anadarko said precautions will be taken to protect animals and visitors.