Why laws prohibiting exotic animals do not work..

1) As shown by both anti drug laws and laws prohibiting ferrets in CA, people are not stopped by such laws. Such laws have only created a black market for both, as seen by the fact that ferrets are often illegally sold in CA for as much as $800, while in other states, they can be acquired for as low as $60. Some people are willing to pay the higher price then to smuggle them in from other states. There are an estimated 500,000+ ferrets in the state of California.

2) Illegal pets have no rights. They are often euthinized when seized by authorities and the owners face jail and heavy fines. Due to the fact that opening a rescue shelter for exotics is near impossible in states where they are illegal and the fact that zoos cannot or will not take them, these animals are often doomed if found.

3) Owners of illegal pets often fear taking them to vets, thus they fail to get proper vet care and vaccinations. The vast majority of vets will not turn owners in, since they know the fate of illegal pets.

4) The very fact a species is illegal often gives rise to misconceptions about the species. Such as wivetales like skunks being born with rabies and weasels sucking blood of infants, both of which have been passed on as 'facts' by state fish & game depts or health depts, with NO scientific proof. Such misinformation often leads to slaughter of these animals in the wild.

5) Laws against exotics are often used as tools by groups who use this to convince people that these animals are wild. This causes owners to turn exotic pets loose in areas they are not native to and cannot survive in. Turning exotic pets or ANY animals loose into the wild is federally illegal without proper permits for the rehabbing of native species.

6) The majority of people who keep illegal pets often are law abiding people who moved from states where they are legal, sometimes not knowing till after they have moved that their beloved pet is prohibited. These people are often subject to blackmail by others, who use the threat of turning them in to force them to do as they wish. If the animal is stolen or abused by others, the owner is unable to even report it for fear of the law.

7) Over regulation of exotic animals hampers those who gain valuable knowledge about each species, as many breeders and owners learn far more from their animals then a limited number of zoological parks can on their own. Much of the knowledge gained about successful breeding, diet and husbandry on pygmy hedgehogs was gained by breeders, not by zoos. So the private sector does have their place in the world of exotic animal keeping.

8) As the world population increases and natural habitat decreases, captive breeding is our insurance for the future of many animals. There are FAR more endangered species then a scant 2000 zoos worldwide can breed, thus zoos end up with surplus of certain animals who the zoos either don't have room for or the animal has minor defects that the zoos don't want. This can mean anything from fur color that is not correct for the species norm (albinos, mutations) to serious problems such as clef pallet in cheetahs or heart murmurs in Florida panthers. These animals that are not fit for the zoo breeding programs would certainly find life better as a pet or in a private collection then as a stuffed trophy on the wall. These animals often CANNOT be rehabbed into the wild at all.

9) The criminal element who might keep illegal exotics, simply do not give a damn if they are legal or not. If they cannot get them from a breeder or broker, they will get them from the black market and from poachers, rather then from existing captive bred populations. Banning the exotics has no more effect on them then banning guns, drugs, explosives or anything else, since they are already willingly breaking the law. In short, only the law abiding citizens care about the laws.

NAPA wishes to help in creation of fair legislation regarding exotic animals as pets or in captive breeding programs. There are alternatives to making animals illegal, such as proper education of exotic animal owners in proper care and handling of these species, plus educating the public on them as well.