The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

CT Wild Pet Animal Ban

HARTFORD -- Passage of a bill that would ban ownership of wild animals has been delayed by questions about small monkeys, ferrets and circuses.

The bill -- a result of a vicious chimpanzee attack in Stamford three months ago -- received nearly unanimous support from two legislative committees.

But state Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, co-chairman of the Environmental Committee, said that before the bill heads to the General Assembly, an amendment must be drafted to ensure it does not target small monkeys, ferrets and professional circuses.

He said he hopes to "have everything ready to run" this week.

In February, Stamford police shot and killed Travis, a 200-pound chimpanzee, after the pet mauled 55-year-old Charla Nash, a friend of the chimp's owner. The injuries to Nash's face and brain were traumatic. She lost her hands and eyesight and broke several bones. Nash is being treated at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

A 2004 law requires permits for wild animals, but the Department of Environmental Protection grandfathered in Travis.

The 2009 bill would ban ownership of a variety of animals large and small -- several types of cats, bears, primates, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas and more.

During hearings, some lawmakers, such as state Reps. William Hamzy, R-Plymouth, and William Aman, R-South Windsor, urged colleagues to consider exemptions for constituents who keep small monkeys.

The 2004 law exempts small primates, but this bill would allow only those with severe disabilities to keep trained monkeys, typically capuchin, for help in the home.

The DEP has identified 24 small monkeys owned by 11 families, Roy said.

"We will retain those 24 as an exemption under this," he said. "But should any of them breed, the baby has to be shipped out of state. And they cannot bring in other monkeys."

The amendment will specify that when transported to a veterinarian or elsewhere, the monkeys must be in a crate or cage, Roy said.

Travis often roamed free, riding with his owners, Sandra Herold of Stamford and her late husband, Jerome, who ran a towing business.

In 2003, the chimp tied up traffic in downtown Stamford after jumping out of a car.

State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he is not concerned about the proposed exemption for small monkeys.

"Certainly there's room for reasonable debate about where you draw the line," McDonald said. "The goal is to protect the public from animals that have some inherently dangerous characteristics. . . . Are you going to say because a pit bull attacks a child you get rid of all dogs? That would be unreasonable."

Denis Schain, a DEP spokesman, said the agency is not happy about exempting small monkeys.

"We liked the bill the way it came out," Schain said. "But we understand there are people out there concerned about the issue of small primates."

The amendment is being drafted to specify that the bill would not ban ownership of ferrets, Roy said.

The bill now bans ownership of any of the mustelidae family of carnivores. Roy said the point was to prevent anyone from owning the more dangerous carnivores, such as wolverines.

"There are some shops who say the ferret makes up a large portion of their trade, that it's a pet, that it's domesticated," Roy said.

Ann Gruden is president of the Ferret Association of Connecticut Inc. in Hartford, which since 1992 has run a shelter for unwanted or abandoned ferrets.

"A ferret is domestic," Gruden said. "They do not and cannot live in the wild "¦ I like to say they have the best and worst (traits) of cats and dogs."

Roy said the bill must be amended to include exemptions for circuses with zoos, nature centers, museums and research facilities.

Schain said that is understandable, "but it needs to be well-defined so that it doesn't become an avenue for people circumventing the list."

If the law is passed, anyone who now owns a banned animal will have to get rid of it, Roy said.

The DEP will rely on residents to report violations, he said.

"We are not going to send people out and knock on every door," Roy said. "I'm sure a number will die with the people they're with.""


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