PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After dozens of exotic animals were set free from a farm in Zanesville, there are plenty of people pointing fingers at the state of Ohio.
They would like to see the state toughen up its laws pertaining to exotics.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission would like to see that happen too.
When there are exotic animal issues in Pennsylvania, those animals were usually purchased in Ohio.
If there’s an exotic animal living in your neighborhood, give the Pa. Game Commission a call.
“We will definitely look into that – that’s probably not going to be a good thing,” Pa. Game Commission Officer Gary Fujak said.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission says in this state ownership of exotic animals is restricted to educational and professionally-run facilities.
“Certain menageries, if you will, that are highly regulated by the commonwealth and the Department of Agriculture,” Fujak said. “The feds will also watch that too.”
Veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson says exotic animals don’t belong with private owners.
“They have to be with experts – people that know what they’re doing, know the habitat and understand the creatures and still keep them wild,” he said.
Dr. Hutchinson says people who think they can domesticate an exotic animal are sadly mistaken.
“We say it takes five generations to domestic a wild cat, and I saw people try to do that in the early 90’s – it didn’t work, they were still wild,” he said.
He says an exotic animal can be fine for years abd then suddenly revert without warning.
“I’ve worked around exotic [animals] my entire career – my practice is a third exotics,” he said. “I can’t predict any more today than I could 25 years ago what this animal is going to do when I’m working on it.”
For that reason, Dr. Hutchinson says Pennsylvania’s strict laws are appropriate as were the actions of everyone involved in Zanesville.
“They made the decision that had to be made to protect humans and that’s most important,” he said.
The Pa. Game Commission says if you know someone housing an exotic animal call them or call 911 to have local authorities check it out.