Posted Online: Posted online: May 28, 2007 12:31 AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa's exotic pet owners could soon find themselves extinct thanks to a new bill signed by Gov. Chet Culver.
The bill makes it illegal for a person to privately own or possess a dangerous wild animal, and to breed or transport them into Iowa.
Exotic pet-lovers won't have to give up their pets right away because the bill doesn't apply to animals currently owned by Iowans.
However, the bill requires owners to register their dangerous wild animal. The animals must be listed with the state an electronic identification device must be attached or embedded into the animal.
The animals outlawed under the new legislation include wolves, coyotes, primates, lions, tigers, bears, leopards, cheetahs, venomous snakes, pandas, rhinoceroses, elephants and other wild species.
A bill establishes a civil penalty for violating the statute.
Supporters say the bill will keep animals from being turned loose by private owners who no longer can care for them.
Many say ownership of the exotic pets has grown because of Internet sales offering cuddly cubs that grow into an unmanageable situation for many owners who then turn to zoos, animal shelters or sanctuaries for help.
However, many of those facilities are filling up or do not want to take responsibility for unwanted animals, officials say.
Circuses, accredited zoos, fairs, animal sanctuaries, pounds or shelters, and animals certified by the U.S. Agriculture Department are exempted under the bill. Vendors will still be allowed to transport the animals through Iowa.