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For Immediate Release: 03/12/08

State Lawmakers to Hear Arguments on Exotic Animal Legislation

Proposed Bill would Ban the Keeping of Dangerous Wild Animals as “Pets”

Raleigh, NC — On March 13, 2008, the Joint Select Committee on Inherently Dangerous Animals will hold a public hearing to investigate the public safety and animal welfare incidents associated with private ownership of dangerous wild animals.

Who: Joint Select Committee on Inherently Dangerous Animals
What: Public Hearing — SB1477
When: Thursday, March 13, 2008, 1:00 p.m.
Where: Room 643, Legislative Office Building, Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina is one of only nine states with no laws prohibiting the private possession of exotic animals such as cougars, tigers, bears, primates and dangerous reptiles. In the U.S. alone, more than 10,000 tigers reside not in accredited institutions with licensed professionals, but in private citizens’ backyards, basements and urban apartments — even more than remain in the wild. North Carolina has seen a number of serious incidents involving exotic animals in recent years, including a 2004 mauling of a 14-year-old girl and fatal attack on a 10-year-old boy in 2003. In addition, the Metrolina Wildlife Park (formerly known as “Charlotte Metro Zoo”) was closed in January 2008 after repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, while in October 2007 a woman was attacked by a leopard at the New River Zoo in Fleetwood, North Carolina; neither facility was accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“This hearing marks a step in the right direction,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Born Free USA. “There is no sound reason to oppose this public safety and animal welfare piece of legislation, and it is time for North Carolina to take a strong stand against the possession, selling, and breeding of these inherently dangerous animals.”

“Every state should prohibit the ownership of big cats such as tigers and lions as pets,” says Josephine Martell, a campaigner with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “These dangerous, wild animals are unpredictable and require specialized care that the average person cannot give. This legislation will reduce the number of dangerous, wild animals kept as pets in neighborhood backyards and help ensure the safety of North Carolina residents.”

Representatives from Born Free USA and IFAW will be present during the hearing and available for interviews.

About Born Free USA
Born Free USA is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the US and globally. More information is available at www.bornfreeusa.org.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW works around the globe to protect animals and their habitats and to create a better world for animals and people (from offices in 16 countries). To learn how to help, please visit www.ifaw.org.

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Contacts:
Zibby Wilder: Born Free USA — 916.267.7266; press@bornfreeusa.org
Brandon Frazier: International Fund for Animal Welfare — 202.536.1907; bfrazier@ifaw.org

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