Nevada wild animal legislation in focus after chimp escape
Posted By Matt Guillermo, Web Producer - bio | email
Police blocked the area of Ann Road and Jones Boulevard after the July 12 escape of two chimpanzees.
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
A lawmaker said the recent escape of two chimpanzees in Las Vegas has raised the urgent need for Nevada to pass a law better defining the private ownership of wild animals.
State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said he has been working with the Humane Society of the United States to work on a law that would ban people from keeping wild animals in backyards and basements.
Roberson said Nevada is one of six states that lack a law on the private ownership of wild animals, including chimpanzees, large felines, bears, wolves and venomous snakes.
"It has been clear for sometime that it is a free-for-all in Nevada when it comes to owning dangerous exotic animals as pets," Roberson said. "In order to protect the public, there needs to be strong oversight of these private owners who, in most cases, do not have the expertise needed to properly care for these animals in captivity."
In the case of the two chimpanzees in the July 12 escape, their owners had kept them in a cage at their residence for several years. The owners were granted permits by Clark County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep the animals at their home.
The chimps' caretaker Tammi DeRosa said she did not know how they escaped from their $100,000 cage. As a result, male chimpanzee Buddy was killed after being shot by Metro Sgt. Andrew Legrow.
CJ, a female chimp, was tranquilized during the incident and later returned to her owners.
Roberson said safety is at the core of the proposed legislation.
"These animals can cause death, inflict serious injury, and spread deadly diseases. It is difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to meet the animals' specialized needs in captivity. The most recent incident is a case in point that the average person is not properly equipped to own and care for these animals," the lawmaker said.
The Human Society said more than 200 people were reportedly injured by captive primates since 1990.
Stay tuned to FOX5 with the latest on this ongoing story.
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