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For Immediate Release: 03/04/05

Death of Two Chimps Demonstrates Problems with CA Laws Governing the Keeping of Wild Animals

API urges immediate action by Fish & Game Department and CA lawmakers

Sacramento, CA — In light of the recent tragic incident at Animal Haven Ranch where two people were seriously injured and two chimpanzees were shot dead, the Animal Protection Institute (API) is calling on the California Fish & Game (DFG) and California lawmakers to better enforce the laws governing the keeping of wild animals in the state.

In this most recent incident, several chimpanzees broke free from their cages at a wild animal facility and attacked visitors while two individuals were visiting their ex-pet chimpanzee, Moe. This facility is not open to the public, yet two people were allowed into the enclosure to celebrate Moe’s 39th birthday and were attacked by two male chimpanzees. The man was critically injured and had to be airlifted to the hospital.

This tragedy was entirely preventable and should demonstrate to lawmakers that not only are captive exotic animals dangerous, but that the visiting public should not have direct contact with wild animals. This incident follows closely the shooting of an escaped tiger recently near the Reagan Library in Southern California. These tragic events demonstrate why the DFG and CA lawmakers must act now to inspect facilities and enforce the law.

“These tragic incidents are entirely preventable,” states Nicole Paquette, attorney for the Animal Protection Institute. “California has one of the most progressive state statues regulating captive wild animals but tragedies like this will continue to happen if it is not properly enforced,” Paquette continues.

California’s 1985 law requires that all facilities and persons possessing captive wild animals obtain a permit from DFG and be inspected by either the DFG or an eligible local entity who has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the DFG. To date no person has signed an MOU with the DFG so every facility must be inspected by DFG. However, in 2004 out of 338 facilities DFG only inspected 14.

In 2001, the Animal Protection Institute filed suit against the DFG for its failure to enforce and comply with existing California laws governing captive wild animals in the state. This case was settled and as a result a CA state advisory committee has been created to address the problems with the lack of enforcement of the state laws. However, these two incidents highlight the need for quicker action.

“This incident clearly demonstrates the problems with the enforcement of the current state laws in California,” continues Paquette. “These facilities have not been inspected pursuant to state law. The public should not have had direct contact with these animals. If we are to prevent future tragedy, now is the time for the Department of Fish and Game and state lawmakers to act.”

The Animal Protection Institute (API) is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization with tens of thousands of members and supporters nationwide working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. For more information about exotic pets and API please visit www.MoreBeautifulWild.com. API is a member of Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition.

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