Saturday, March 31, 2012, The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and Beardsley Zoo will be teaming up for Connecticut’s second Exotic Animal Amnesty Day. Owners of illegal exotic animals such as primates, alligators, reptiles and big cats will be able to turn in their pets in a “don’t ask don’t tell” environment. The event will be held from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Beardsley Zoo located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Animals that are considered legal, such as pythons and iguanas, will not be accepted.
According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, second only to drugs and weapons on the black market. It's a $15 billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines. Millions of animals are forced into the exotic pet trade every year for the purpose of becoming someone's pet or entertaining the masses in a circus or roadside zoo.
Sadly, many people owning an exotic soon find themselves ill-equip to handle the needs of their beloved pet especially when the animal gets older and bigger. It is easy to forget that an exotic is nothing less than a wild animal. No matter how loving and caring you may be; there is no way to tell when an exotic will turn wild. According to the Born Free Exotic Animal Incidents database:
- There were a total of 75 exotic animal incidents resulting in a human death between September 2006 and June 2011.
- In 2011 alone there were 161 reported incidents dealing with exotic animals of which 118 were pet related.
- Between July 1997 and July 2011, there were a total of 17 reported exotic animal incidents in Connecticut, 3 of which occurred in 2011. All but one was pet related and 4 resulted in human injury. Of these four injuries, 2 were primate related, 1 from an iguana and 1 from a poisonous snake.
Perhaps the most notorious incident in Connecticut was the tragic story of Travis, a 15 year old chimpanzee that brutally attacked its owner’s friend; whom is still dealing with the horrific injuries sustained. Soon afterwards, the state’s first exotic animal amnesty day was held on July 25, 2009. It was a huge success in that 135 animals were collected including a capuchin monkey, a half dozen alligators and cayman, and several varieties of tortoise, lizards, and snakes. Let’s hope that Saturday’s event will be just as successful for both the people and the animals.