of exotic animals often have little if any knowledge of the species
they are acquiring and quickly learn that exotic animals do not
make good companions. These animals require special enclosures,
diet and maintenance that the average person is unable to provide,
and they also pose serious health and safety risks to their possessors
and any other individuals that come in contact with them. As a
result, individuals possessing exotic animals often attempt to
change the nature of the animals rather than the nature of the
care being provided. Such tactics result in tremendous suffering
for captive exotics and include confinement in small barren enclosures,
chaining, painful mutilations such as declawing and tooth removal,
or even beating “into submission.”
individuals realize they can no longer care for an exotic “pet,”
they often turn to sanctuaries to relieve them of their responsibilities.
However, most reputable sanctuaries are already bursting at the
seams with unwanted exotic animals and are unable to accommodate
the vast number of animals in need of refuge. Consequently, the
majority of these animals end up doomed to live in deplorable
conditions, or are abandoned. In Florida’s diverse habitat
and subtropical climate, exotic animals dumped by their owners
often are able to thrive, causing ecological harm and increased
conflicts with humans throughout the state. It is for these reasons,
along with tragic incidents of human injuries and animal cruelty,
that Floridians are becoming increasingly concerned about the
private possession of exotic animals.
Consider the following:
the state of Florida approx. 4,500 people or businesses hold licenses
to own wild animals. Of that number, 500 are permitted to own
animals that the state considers to be potential threats to human
safety ("Class I" and "Class II" wildlife),
such as chimpanzees, tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, bobcats and
A November 2007 special report by the St. Petersburg
Times concluded that, "Florida remains a haven for menageries."
The paper found that there were at least 456 tigers in Florida,
and 401 cougars! (This does not include animals in accredited
According to the St. Petersburg Times, captive
wildlife have injured at least 124 people in Florida in the past
five years. There have been numerous other incidents in which
dangerous captive exotic animals escaped from their cages. ARFF
maintains a list of exotic
"pet" incidents in Florida.
Florida has become the “perfect” dumping ground
for exotic pet owners whose animals have become too difficult
to manage. As a result, Florida now teems with invasive, non-native
species such as monitor lizards, Burmese pythons and even monkeys.
truly ensure the community’s safety and animal’s welfare,
a complete ban on the private possession of exotic animals must
You Can Do:
your State Representative and State Senator to ban the private
possession of exotic animals in Florida. (Click
here to find your elected officials.)
Florida's Governor and ask that the make up of the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission be representative of the
interests of Floridians. Most residents of Florida are not
hunters, anglers or owners of exotic animals.
Office of the
your local zoo officials to make a commitment to ensure that any
animal they acquire remain in accredited facilities their entire
lives. Too often, when cute babies are born at zoos, the older,
less profitable animals are moved out the back door in order to
make room. Sometimes, after passing through several hands, those
animals end up in the exotic pet trade.
not support the trade of wild animals in any form—as “pets,”
products, or entertainment.
out about the private possession of exotics. Write letters to
your local newspaper about exotic pets or legislation affecting