Two Years After Chimp Attack, State Is Cracking Down on Exotic Pets

By Monica Buchanan
|  Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011  |  Updated 7:34 AM EDT
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Pet Chimp Killed After Attacking Woman

Travis the chimp is behind a call for the crackdown of exotic animals after a mauling in Stamford

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Travis the chimp destroyed Charla Nash’s face, eyesight and her trust in wild animals when the animal mauled her on this date in 2009. 

That horrific attack on Feb. 16, 2009 thrust Connecticut’s exotic animal laws into the spotlight  and the state Department of Environmental Protection is revamping the law and planning to ban chimps, gorillas, orangutans, pythons and some more common animals, like wild ferrets.

Dozens of animal lovers, reptile shop owners and exhibitors voices their concerns at a public hearing at DEP headquarters in Hartford on Tuesday.

“It will really hurt the reptile industry. Connecticut, for a long time, has had some really lenient laws on the big snake and lizard community. A ban would be devastating,” Jeremy Turgeon, of J and D Reptiles, said. 

The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk said, under proposed changes, it would no longer be considered an aquarium and some of its interactive exhibits would become illegal.

“We have a number of touch tanks. We take programs into the schools that used horseshoe crabs and sea stars. We expose 20,000 kids to that,” Jack Schneider said.

The DEP admits that more work must be done before any changes become law.

“One of the things we really need to clarify is our definition of domestic animal and wild animal. To be clear, these regulations would only apply to wild animals,” said Rick Jacobson, the director of the DEP’s wildlife division.

An attorney for the Nash family also attended the hearing and said the family plans to sue the state for $150 million, claiming the current law was never enforced. 

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