Nevada Lawmaker Proposes Exotic Animal Ban

LAS VEGAS -- After last week's chimpanzee escape, a state senator is calling for a ban on owning wild animals.

The chimpanzee, Buddy, and another chimp escaped from their enclosure and were running through a neighborhood. A police officer shot and killed Buddy.

At Scott Shoemaker's home, 22 large cats, including tigers, live on his property.

To him, they're just pets.

The Wildlife You Can and Cannot Legally Possess

Shoemaker is part of a group called Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership, and he said he is concerned he may lose the right to keep exotic animals.

"If you try to ban it or make it illegal, there's a good chance they'll just go underground," Shoemaker said. "(Officials) wont know where these animals are at and they wont have plans in place of how to react to them in case something does go wrong."

Nevada state Sen. Michael Roberson of Henderson said the state is just one of six where people are allowed to keep exotic animals in their homes.

"Lions and tigers and apes have no business next door to families and children in residential neighborhoods in southern Nevada," he said. "There's a big difference between a dog and a lion or tiger or wolf or an ape. Chimpanzees are not pets. They're violent animals. "They're not meant to live in residential neighborhoods like dogs are."

SLIDESHOW: Exotic Animal Owners Face Ban

Shoemaker described himself as a responsible pet owner and said his property has tall fences and hot wires to keep his animals from escaping.

Roberson said he plans to reach out to groups like Shoemaker's to hammer out details, such as possibly grandfathering in current owners or excluding those living in rural areas from the restrictions.

He said he expects to introduce at the next legislative session is 2013.


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