On October 18, 2011 over 50 large exotic animals were set free from their backyard zoo in Zanesville, Ohio by their owner Terry Tempos who later took his own life, according to Mark Guarino, staff writer for ABC News. The local police slaughtered 48 of the renegade animals instead of trying to capture them.
In the United States, unqualified civilians owning exotic animals is a potentially dangerous problem that, if not properly dealt with, could lead to the endangerment, injury or even death of innocent animals and people.
I believe the best way to handle the problem is to create stricter laws on the owning, purchase, shelter and sale of exotic animals. Hopefully, this will keep animals like tigers and bears out of the hands of everyday people.
In the United States the laws on owning large exotic animals such as tigers are vague and surprisingly rare. There is only one Federal law on owning exotic animals and ideally, to comply, you should be affiliated with an animal rescue or animal study program to qualify for it. States with laws for exotic animals are still in the single digits. Those laws are non-descript and repetitive. Even though laws may exist it is extremely difficult to enforce them because there is no group or organization to enforce them. This allows people to be able to obtain exotic animals for a low price in places like auction houses and the internet. It has been known for people to buy infant tigers and lions for as little as $400 each.
State laws prohibits the owning of large animals but often ignore legislation on smaller creatures. Exotics like birds, reptiles and monkeys have a tendency to be as, if not more dangerous, and more invasive than their larger counterparts. This can lead to human endangerment as well as an environmental calamity.
Consider the Boa Constrictor and its taking over the Florida Everglades. Because of individuals who purchase a Boa as a baby and slowly learn it can grow to 10 feet long, they release it into the wild. Those snakes have found their way into the Everglades. They are now a highly invasive species which has thrown off the food chain in the Everglades. Crocodiles used to be the top predator in Florida, but with the release of Boa Constrictors, the Everglades now face a new menace and the Boa now fights with the Crock for the number one position.
As of 2007, 18 states ban ownership of exotic animals outright. Another 10 states have partial bans on the ownership of the rare and beautiful creatures. Thirteen more require the owner to obtain a license or permit from the relevant agency to privately possess the animal, and finally 9 states have no license or permit requirements but may regulate some aspects, like entry permits.
There is one Federal law on the books that covers only the interstate transport of exotic animals through the United States if you are an institution affiliated with the Association of Zoo’s and Aquarium’s (AZA) or certified related facility...