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State Laws Governing Private Possession of Exotic Animals

This color-coded map provides a quick summary of the various states' laws relating to the keeping of wild and exotic animals as "pets."


20 states have a ban on private ownership of exotic animals — at least large cats (some of them ban all wild cats), wolves, bears, reptiles, most non-human primates: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming
9 states have a partial ban on private ownership of exotic animals — allows ownership of some exotic animals but precludes others: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia
12 states require the "owner" of the exotic animal to obtain a license or permit from the relevant state agency to privately possess the animal (excludes states only requiring import permits): Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas
9 states have no license or permit requirements, but may regulate some aspect thereof (entry permit, veterinary certificate) or have no state statute governing this issue: Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin