The Iguana Den




Daily News Article on NYC Exotic Pet Ban


Exotic Pets' Days Numbered
Daily News City Hall Bureau Chief

New York Daily News June 30, 1999

The Board of Health's most-wanted list of the wild and dangerous: The ferocious ferret. Killer kinkajous. The hardhearted hippopotamus. Add the sea lion, the gorilla, the vulture and kangaroo. Hyena, porcupine and otter, too.

New York, it seems, wants to take the wild kingdom out of the urban jungle.

The city yesterday issued a first-time list of pets New Yorkers can't have — and it reads like the passenger list for Noah's Ark.

It's four pages of single-spaced diversity, from elephants to opossums, scorpions to woodchucks.

"Public safety," the department said in a terse statement, "is the significant concern."

Some New Yorkers will be surprised. The list includes relatively familiar friends that might turn up in any apartment — pythons, iguanas, ferrets.

"We're not criminals for owning these pets," said Gary Kaskel, a ferret owner who wanted his beloved Ginger left off the list. "This is a facist government."

Violators could face fines of $100 to $2,000, but city officials said there was no dragnet in the making. It was time to replace a broadly worded rule with a comprehensive list, they said.

In the absence of a master list, the city often found itself in court when dangerous pets were seized.

"They are not going to go on a ferret bounty hunt," said mayoral spokeswoman Sunny Mindel.

Most of the animals went on the list without a sound of discontent. Grizzly bears. Snapping turtles. Scorpions. Bats. Antelopes.

Guinea pigs, fine. Armadillos, sorry.

The parakeet, okay. The walrus, nope.

Dogs and cats, of course, get a reprieve.

Most of the problems came with ferrets. The city said they're unpredictable, in some cases attacking children. Owners disagreed, and city Councilwoman Kathryn Freed (D-Manhattan) has legislation to exclude the ferrets.

Ferrets are "prone to vicious, unprovoked attacks," the board said in its statement.



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