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ATTN: It is illegal for Floridians to own snow leopards & cape buffalo

February 6, 2014

The news out of Lake Wales today concerning the arrest of a tenth month old’s parents for negligent child abuse after police discovered their home to contain two frozen alligators, a living black bass and a bunch of meth provides us a good opportunity to brush up on Florida’s exotic animal ownership laws. You already know meth is illegal, but what about that snub-nosed langur you’ve had your eye on?

Basically, the state divides exotic animals into two categories: Class I animals, which are prohibited for personal use, and Class II animals, which are allowed with a permit. The former category includes (but is not limited to) chimpanzees, gibbons, baboons, drills, mandrills, snow leopards, cape buffalo, crocodiles, elephants, bears and komodo dragons. Howler monkeys, mangabeys, celebes black apes, snub-nosed langurs, bobcats, cheetahs, ocelots, alligators, hyenas and ostriches are some of the animals that fall into the latter category.

Now, a black bass like the Lake Wales couple had, that’s an animal whose possession is regulated by a specific agency – in this case, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. According to their rules you need a freshwater fishing permit to “take” these creatures, which is defined as “pursuing, hunting, molesting, capturing or killing any freshwater fish, their nests or eggs, by any means, whether or not such actions result in obtaining possession of such freshwater fish or their nests or eggs.” It is unknown currently if the meth-possessing couple in question were licensed freshwater fishers.

Oh, and before you even ask, the Atlantic sturgeon is a federally designated endangered species, so don’t even bother setting up that Atlantic sturgeon habitat in your garage. It’s not gonna happen.

If you have any further questions concerning animal ownership in Florida, consult your local neighborhood’s designated wildlife official. Failing that, visit PetSmart. If they don’t have chew toys for something like cape buffalo, chances are you aren’t supposed to own one.

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