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For Immediate Release: 12/13/11

Following Zanesville, OH, Exotic Animal Tragedy and Ongoing Epidemic of Dangerous Exotics as ‘Pets,’ Born Free USA Urges Pennsylvania Lawmakers to Ban Private Possession of Crocodilians

With no restrictions or oversight on the private possession of dangerous crocodilians (alligators, crocodiles, caimans and gavials), Pennsylvania has become a popular safe haven for owners of crocodilians, an activity that would be prohibited in other states. In the aftermath of October’s Zanesville, Ohio exotics animal tragedy, and at the urging of Born Free USA, state Representative Mike Carroll (D-118) has introduced House Bill 2063, an initiative aimed at banning the private possession of crocodilians in Pennsylvania.

According to Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, “Crocodilians are exotic animals incapable of being domesticated. They are inherently dangerous and highly unpredictable and most people cannot provide the special care, housing, diet and maintenance that they require. Crocodilians are among the tens of thousands of exotics kept as pets in the U.S. and, despite constant incidents that put animals and the public in danger — like in Zanesville — people continue to want wild animals as pets. Wild animals belong in the wild, and until there is government action, animals will continue to suffer and people will be in life-threatening situations. We are grateful to Representative Carroll for his work.”

Through its online database Born Free USA has tracked at least 20 separate dangerous incidents in Pennsylvania that involve “pet” crocodilians in the past nine years — including pets who have been abandoned or escaped confinement putting the public in more danger. In June, it was reported that five children entered a Monroe County home that held 11 full-grown “pet” alligators and allegedly threw rocks at the animals. The “owner” had relocated the alligators from Connecticut after being told he could not keep them there.

Roberts continues: “Every year captive exotic animals are involved in incidents that result in human injury or death. How many more incidents and state resources will it take before Pennsylvania makes a change? In order to protect children, communities, and the crocodilians themselves, statewide legislation is needed.”

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers, now chief executive officer of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, (203) 270-8929.

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