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, August 23, 2009

Outlaw dangerous exotic pets in Oregon

by Doug Bates, The Oregonian
Wednesday March 18, 2009, 3:06 PM

In this Oct. 19, 2003 file photo, Travis, an escaped chimpanzee, is coaxed into a waiting sport utility vehicle in downtown Stamford, Conn. The then 175-pound chimpanzee kept as a pet was shot and killed by a police officer on Feb. 16 after it attacked a woman visiting its owners' home, leaving her with serious facial injuries, authorities said.

Owners of exotic pets in Oregon are in a full-throated howl over Senate Bill 391, which would ban the personal ownership of certain types of dangerous wild animals such as chimpanzees, lions, wolves, crocodiles and alligators. I hope Oregon lawmakers will howl right back at such pet owners and pass the legislation.

The main rationale for SB 391 is that dangerous exotic pets are, well, dangerous. Even seemingly cute, charming, cuddly wild animals are unpredictable and, again, dangerous. There's no need to argue this point beyond pointing out the horrific injuries recently suffered by a Connecticut woman who was attacked by a friend's pet chimpanzee.

But there's a companion argument: Keeping such animals as pets is wrong and unfair to the creatures, no matter how much effort the owner puts into humane care. Arguably, only well-run zoos and animals shelters can provide adequate care for such wild animals in captivity.

SB 391 seems fair to me. It would phase out the issuance of any new license to keep exotic animals as defined in the bill after the effective date. All individuals would still be able to keep the exotic animals they currently possess as pets; however, they would not be able to acquire any new exotic pets after the effective date of the law.

The bill would also add crocodiles, alligators and caimans to the list of exotic animals that can't be kept as pets. If you currently possess such a creature, the bill would let you keep it for the remainder of its life, but you couldn't obtain a new one.

The chief sponsors are Sens. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, and Brian Boquist, R-Dallas. Co-sponsors are Reps. Vicki Berger, R-Salem; Scott Bruun, R-West Linn; Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls; Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley; Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay.

That's an impressive bipartisan coalition that bodes well for passage of the bill. Still, it could face rough sledding given the loud and relentless outcry from owners of exotic pets in Oregon.

Current Oregon law is astonishingly weak and uneven on the subject. It requires people to get permits to keep certain types of wild animals, such as bears, tigers and apes. The law says nothing, however, about keeping a man-eating alligator in your pond. Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations make it illegal to keep most native wildlife in captivity without a special state permit.

Twenty states already outlaw personal ownership of dangerous exotic animals. Oregon needs to join that list, and SB 391 is a reasonable bill to make it happen.

- Doug Bates, associate editor;


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