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For Immediate Release: 08/30/06

Study bill shows legislative support for ban on dangerous exotic pets

Charlotte, NC — The Animal Protection Institute (API) is urging North Carolina legislators to introduce legislation next legislative session to ban the private ownership of dangerous exotic animals. A study bill, supported by API and Sen. John Garwood, passed through the legislature this year and directs a team of experts to “study” the dangers that these animals pose and come up with a solution to the problem. The bill was introduced on the heels of a 10-year-old boy in Sen. Garwood’s district who died after being attacked by a pet tiger.

Findings from API’s recent investigation into exotic pets in North Carolina, combined with recent incidents, including the maulings of two children, one to death, by “pet” tigers, and the arrest of one roadside zoo owner on drug and weapons charges, highlight the need for a legislative ban on these animals.

The USDA oversees the federal AWA, which extends minimal protection to dangerous exotic animals who are exhibited to the public and sets specific requirements for their separation from the public but API’s investigation and reported incidents prove that the USDA is incapable of regulating these owners and a ban in needed. The USDA has less than 100 inspectors for more than 10,000 USDA-licensed exotic animal owners.

“The only way to address this situation is to prohibit the private possession of dangerous exotic animals,” says Nicole Paquette, Esq., Director of Legal and Government Affairs for API. “The incidents that have been documented, and passage of the study bill, show that North Carolina is ready to put such restrictions in place.”

“Allowing the possession of exotic animals has proven to be dangerous for people and for animals in North Carolina,” says Lorraine Smith, Curator of Mammals, North Carolina Zoo. “Not only are these animals incredibly hard to properly care for, they pose an inherent risk to the communities in which they are kept. Our legislature needs to act immediately to protect the public and these animals before another child is killed.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Animal Control Association, and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, including the North Carolina Zoo, each oppose the private ownership of certain exotic animals.

API is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation and public education. API also manages a Primate Sanctuary that is currently home to more than 400 primates, many of whom were rescued from abusive or exploitative private ownership situations. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.

B-roll footage and still photos from North Carolina are available by request at 916-447-3085 x205 or email press@api4animals.org.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute (API), 916-447-3085 x205

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