Purchasers of exotic animals often have little if any knowledge of the species they are acquiring and quickly learn that exotic animals do not make good companions. These animals require special enclosures, diet and maintenance that the average person is unable to provide, and they also pose serious health and safety risks to their possessors and any other individuals that come in contact with them. As a result, individuals possessing exotic animals often attempt to change the nature of the animals rather than the nature of the care being provided. Such tactics result in tremendous suffering for captive exotics and include confinement in small barren enclosures, chaining, painful mutilations such as declawing and tooth removal, or even beating “into submission.”

Once individuals realize they can no longer care for an exotic “pet,” they often turn to sanctuaries to relieve them of their responsibilities. However, most reputable sanctuaries are already bursting at the seams with unwanted exotic animals and are unable to accommodate the vast number of animals in need of refuge. Consequently, the majority of these animals end up doomed to live in deplorable conditions, or are abandoned. In Florida’s diverse habitat and subtropical climate, exotic animals dumped by their owners often are able to thrive, causing ecological harm and increased conflicts with humans throughout the state. It is for these reasons, along with tragic incidents of human injuries and animal cruelty, that Floridians are becoming increasingly concerned about the private possession of exotic animals.

Consider the following:


In the state of Florida approx. 4,500 people or businesses hold licenses to own wild animals. Of that number, 500 are permitted to own animals that the state considers to be potential threats to human safety ("Class I" and "Class II" wildlife), such as chimpanzees, tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, bobcats and cougars.

A November 2007 special report by the St. Petersburg Times concluded that, "Florida remains a haven for menageries." The paper found that there were at least 456 tigers in Florida, and 401 cougars! (This does not include animals in accredited zoos.)

According to the St. Petersburg Times, captive wildlife have injured at least 124 people in Florida in the past five years. There have been numerous other incidents in which dangerous captive exotic animals escaped from their cages. ARFF maintains a list of exotic "pet" incidents in Florida.Photo: National Park Service

Florida has become the “perfect” dumping ground for exotic pet owners whose animals have become too difficult to manage. As a result, Florida now teems with invasive, non-native species such as monitor lizards, Burmese pythons and even monkeys.

To truly ensure the community’s safety and animal’s welfare, a complete ban on the private possession of exotic animals must be adopted.


What You Can Do:

Urge your State Representative and State Senator to ban the private possession of exotic animals in Florida. (Click here to find your elected officials.)

Contact Florida's Governor and ask that the make up of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission be representative of the interests of Floridians. Most residents of Florida are not hunters, anglers or owners of exotic animals.
Florida Governor Rick Scott
Comment form.
Phone: (850) 488-7146
Fax: (850) 487-0801
Mailing Address:
Office of the Governor
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Ask your local zoo officials to make a commitment to ensure that any animal they acquire remain in accredited facilities their entire lives. Too often, when cute babies are born at zoos, the older, less profitable animals are moved out the back door in order to make room. Sometimes, after passing through several hands, those animals end up in the exotic pet trade.

Do not support the trade of wild animals in any form—as “pets,” products, or entertainment.

Speak out about the private possession of exotics. Write letters to your local newspaper about exotic pets or legislation affecting your community.

1431 N. Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33304 (954) 727-ARFF