Bill Says Bye-Bye Chimps and Hippos

You might love your chimp, python or wolverine but they are just too dangerous to leave security up to your electric fence, state officials said.

Having an animal like Travis, the 200-pound chimp that went crazy and mauled Charla Nash in Stamford last month, would mean big fines and jail time for you if a new bill goes through.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy put together the legislation.

What would the bill prohibit? Chimps and other primates, alligators, kangaroos, wolverines, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, elephants and certain dangerous snakes, including pythons.

If caught with a hippo, or anything else on the list, you would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and could spend up to one year in prison and be charged a $2,000 fine.

The bill would also increase the civil penalty from $1,000 to $2,000 a day.

“Wild animals belong in the wild -- their natural habitat or sanctuaries, not suburban homes. No matter how domesticated they may seem, they remain highly dangerous -- driven by natural instinct to destroy or disable any perceived threat,” Blumenthal said. “A woman has been disfigured and probably disabled for life because of a horrific attack that could have been prevented by this ban. We seek a prohibition -- not permits -- for potentially dangerous exotic animals. The law must have real penalties that deter possession and protect the public,” Blumenthal said.

Regardless of an animal owners intention, McCarthy said, these animals “belong in zoos or other public institutions for public viewing where they can receive proper medical treatment and have their dietary needs met in a safe and controlled manner.”

Blumenthal blasted the laws on the books now and said they impose no real restrictions on wild and possibly perilous animals in homes.

“Legislative action is imperative to protect the interests of the public, as well as animals,” he said.

McCarthy said she hopes the legislation would pass quickly.

The bill would not affect properly licensed or accredited zoos, nature centers and research and educational facilities from acquiring and keeping primates and other animals, according to Blumenthal and McCarthy.

The proposed legislation will be presented Monday to the Environment Committee.

Last month, the U.S. House passed a bill that would ban transporting monkeys and apes across state lines to sell them as pets.

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