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For Immediate Release: 04/21/04

North Carolina County Bans “Pet” Exotic Animals

Animal Protection Institute Lauds Action as Important Safety Measure, Model for Nation

Sacramento, CA — Following the tragic death of a North Carolina boy killed by his aunt’s tiger, the county where the incident occurred has outlawed the private possession of exotic animals as pets within county limits. Last December, 10-year-old Clayton James Eller was fatally mauled by a 400-pound Bengal tiger at his aunt’s Wilkes County, North Carolina home.

Wilkes County lawmakers Tuesday night unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting exotic “pets” after receiving assistance and model language from the Animal Protection Institute (API), a national animal advocacy non-profit organization with 85,000 members and supporters. API has drafted an exotic animal ordinance that is used as a model across the country. Under the ordinance, exotic animals are defined as non-domesticated wildlife such as bears, wolves, tigers and other wild cats, non-human primates, dangerous reptiles, and other non-traditional “exotic” animals.

API worked closely with Wilkes County attorney Tony Triplett in the drafting of the ordinance. API has long advocated against the private possession of dangerous exotic animals. The incident that resulted in the death of the Wilkes County boy, like hundreds of others reported around the country, could have been avoided if a wild animal had not been kept captive.

“We commend Wilkes County lawmakers for moving in the right direction by taking a pro-active step to protect their residents and the animals’ welfare,” says API’s Director of Legal and Government Affairs Nicole Paquette. “These incidents should send a message that no one is safe and that state lawmakers should enact a ban on the private possession of these animals, before another child is killed.” North Carolina currently has no statewide laws safeguarding the public from dangerous exotic pets. “We urge North Carolina state lawmakers and the rest of America to follow suit before another incident occurs,” Paquette adds.

“This incident demonstrates that wild animals, even those kept as ‘pets,’ are unpredictable and can prove to be dangerous,” says Paquette. “It’s impossible to totally eliminate the ‘wild’ from wild animals — these animals are time bombs waiting to explode,” she says.

The Animal Protection Institute has an extensive list of incidents involving wild animals in captivity, including dangerous exotic animals in private possession. For more information on API’s exotic “pet” campaign, visit www.api4animals.org/a3b_exotic_pets.php.

The Animal Protection Institute, a national non-profit animal advocacy organization with 85,000 members and supporters, works to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. API also operates a 186-acre primate sanctuary near San Antonio, Texas that is home to more than 400 rescued and retired snow monkeys, baboons, and vervets. For more information about API, API’s Primate Sanctuary, and the organization’s mission, campaigns, and activities, please visit www.api4animals.org.

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Contact:
Nicole Paquette, API Legal/Government Affairs Director - 916-447-3085 x214, legislation@api4animals.org

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