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March 13, 2013

The Humane Society of the United States Urges Nevada Lawmakers to Prohibit Private Possession of Dangerous Wild Animals

The Humane Society of the United States commends Nevada Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, for introducing S.B. 245 to prohibit the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets. Given the recent escape of two chimpanzees who rampaged through a Las Vegas neighborhood—and the subsequent shooting death of one of them—The HSUS applauds the state’s proactive approach to turn this problem around and protect public safety and animal welfare.

S.B. 245 will prohibit the future possession of dangerous wild animals including big cats, bears, primates, wolves, alligators, crocodiles and some species of venomous snakes. Existing owners will be able to keep the animals they currently have, but breeding and new acquisitions of dangerous wild animals will be prohibited. This legislation exempts accredited zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, research and educational facilities, casinos and circuses.

Roberson said, "It has been clear for some time that it is a free-for-all in Nevada when it comes to owning dangerous exotic animals as pets. These animals can cause death, inflict serious injury and spread deadly diseases. It is difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to meet the animals’ specialized needs in captivity. The most recent incident is a case in point that the average person is not properly equipped to own and care for these animals."

Holly Haley, Nevada state director for The HSUS, added, "Lax laws in Nevada have threatened the safety of our residents and the welfare of wild animals themselves caught up in this trade. In order to protect public safety and animal welfare, Nevada needs to join the dozens of states that have common-sense restrictions on the private ownership of big cats, primates, and other dangerous wildlife in our communities."

Nevada is one of only six states with virtually no legal restrictions on the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets. The time has come for Nevada to take decisive action on this issue.

 Facts:

  • Experts, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, oppose the private possession of exotic and wild animals as pets
  • Since 1990, there have been more than 700 incidents involving captive big cats, bears and primates nationwide, resulting in 27 human deaths (including four children) and more than 550 injuries.
  • Wild animals retain their basic instincts, even if they are born in captivity and raised by humans. When the animals grow too large and difficult to handle, they are typically confined to small cages, passed from owner to owner, or simply turned loose—endangering the community and native wildlife. 

Media Contact: Pepper Van Tassell: 240-818-3831; pvantassell@humanesociety.org

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