Roar greets bill to ban risky animals
Jim Nesbitt, Staff Writer
The bill would ban private ownership of animals deemed "inherently dangerous," including lions, tigers, apes, monkeys and venomous snakes not indigenous to
Several weeks ago, the bill appeared to be dead, bottled up in a committee that kept it from meeting the legislature’s "crossover" deadline.
But the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ed Jones, a Democrat from
"I’m not going to put anybody out of business," Jones said. "I’m not going to ban all animals. I just want to make sure what we have are kept for properly."
Jones said his primary purpose is to outlaw the keeping of tigers, lions and other larger, dangerous carnivores in "backyard" cages by people with little or no training.
This is the latest twist in a legislative initiative started after a 10-year-old
Roger Bone is a lobbyist hired by the group backing the bill, the Animal Protection Institute of Sacramento,
Opponents of Jones’ bill say the API-backed measure reaches far beyond the threat posed by risky critters kept in the backyard. They say it threatens serious reptile collectors, people who use exotic animals in traveling education programs for schools, and small, private institutions such as the Cape Fear Serpentarium in
"If this bill has been redrafted to keep Billy Bob from keeping a tiger chained in the backyard or a rattlesnake in a glass case, we can stand behind that," said Tanith Tyrr, reptile curator at the serpentarium. "But I’m afraid because we know who wrote this bill. They’re trying to push something through to prevent legitimate professionals from keeping and helping these animals."
Jones said he has drafted changes to the bill to address these concerns and promised to remove four large constrictor snakes and venomous snakes that aren’t indigenous to
"Reptiles are not what’s killing us out here," he said "It’s the person who has his tiger running around and not properly caged."
Opponents of Jones’ bill are also critical of a legislative study committee headed by officials at the
"It’s a little curious to me why this is being pushed so hard when there’s no one in North Carolina except the zoo and API pushing it so heavily," said Mary Ann McBride, assistant state veterinarian and member of the study committee. "Do we really want a
But Dr. David Jones, zoo director, said the API-backed bill and the study committee aren’t a coordinated effort. Jones said that, as a state agency, the zoo doesn’t support specific bills, but he thinks it’s important to restrict the ownership of exotic animals and establish higher standards for zoos and sanctuaries.
Staff writer Jim Nesbitt can be reached at 829-8955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.