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For Immediate Release: 07/01/09

Oregon Governor Signs Bill to Ban Exotic Pets

Salem, OR — Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) today applauded Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski for signing legislation to prohibit possession of wild animals as pets.

The bill, which was introduced in the State Legislature by Sens. Mark Hass, D-14, and Brian Boquist, D-23, ends private possession of many wild animals in the state, including wild cats, most wild canids, bears, non-human primates, and alligators and crocodiles. Reps. Vicki Berger, R-20, Scott Bruun, R-37, Bill Garrard, R-56, Mike Schaufler, D-48, Brad Witt, D-31, and Arnie Roblan, D-9, are co-sponsors.

“Oregon has become the 29th state to prohibit the private possession of dangerous wild animals,” said Nicole G. Paquette, senior vice president and general counsel for Born Free USA. “Primates don’t belong in apartments in Portland and alligators don’t belong in backyards in Ashland. Today is a day for Oregonians to be proud of their elected officials.”

“This new common-sense law addresses both public safety and animal welfare,” said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for The HSUS. “Wild animals in captivity can attack, can spread disease and have needs that the average citizen can’t meet. We are grateful that the Oregon Legislature agrees and has finally put an end to this practice.”

This bill just makes sense,” said Sharon Harmon, OHS executive director. “Wild animals aren't suitable pets and pose grave dangers to human health and safety. Having a wild animal in your home puts both the animal and you at risk of injury or even death.”


  • Before passage of the bill, Oregon required a permit to possess certain wild animals as pets. S.B. 391 prohibits future acquisition of these animals and adds alligators, crocodiles and caimans to the list. People who currently have these animals will be able to keep them, but not breed or replace them.
  • At the federal level, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland)is the lead author of H.R. 80, the Captive Primate Safety Act, which would ban the interstate commerce in apes, monkeys and other primates for the pet trade. It would complement state laws on the possession of dangerous exotic animals, since many of these animals are purchased over the Internet and through other interstate instruments. The Captive Primate Safety Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February overwhelmingly and was approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously on May 14. It is now pending in the full Senate.

Previous incidents involving exotic animals in Oregon include:

  • A monkey brought by a man to a Salem park scratched a 6-year-old girl, causing puncture wounds below her eye, in April 2009.
  • A pet alligator escaped from a Gresham home and was found walking along the Springwater Trail in September 2008.
  • The body of a dead three-foot alligator was found in a creek in Douglas County in March 2007.
  • A pet capuchin monkey escaped from an enclosure in Lincoln County in April 2007.
  • A serval (an African wild cat) escaped from a home near Aurora in November 2006. The animal was recaptured only to escape again on the way home.
  • A pet lynx escaped and jumped on a 6-year-old girl's head in Clackamas County in August 2005.

Born Free USA is a leading national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the US and globally. Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader on exotic animal legislation and cares for more than 500 primates, many of whom were formerly kept inappropriately as pets, at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas. More information is available at bornfreeusa.org.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

Celebrating 140 years of service to animals in this community, the Oregon Humane Society is dedicated to helping animals and people. Last year, over 9,000 animals were adopted through the OHS, more than 900 reports of animal abuse and neglect are investigated, almost 20,000 children were taught humane education, and hundreds of nursing home residents are visited by animal assisted therapy volunteers and their animals. oregonhumane.org


Nicole Paquette, Born Free USA, nicole@bornfreeusa.org

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