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Florida Animal Law Keeping Exotic Animals As Pets

exotic-animals-as-petsWEST PALM BEACH — A tearful Steven Sipek, better known as “Tarzan,” acknowledged Friday that it is unlikely he will ever again be allowed to live with his beloved big cats after admitting he violated state wildlife laws by keeping two tigers and a black leopard in his Loxahatchee home.

“I’ve taken care of animals all my life and now I’ve lost them,” the 71-year-old red-eyed giant of a man said outside a Palm Beach County courtroom after accepting a plea deal. “They have something against me. I don’t know what. I’ve done nothing wrong.” Source

Florida State Laws Governing Private Possession of Exotic Animals

FLA. ADMIN. CODE ANN. r. §68A-6.002 – Categories of Captive Wildlife.

(1) The commission hereby establishes the following categories of wildlife:

(a) Class 1:

  1. Chimpanzees (genus Pan)
  2. Gorillas (genus Gorilla)
  3. Gibbons (genus Hylobates)
  4. Drills and mandrills (genus Mandrillus)
  5. Orangutans (genus Pongo)
  6. Baboons (genus Papaio)
  7. Siamangs (genus Symphalangus)
  8. Gelada baboons (genus Theropithecus)
  9. Snow leopards (Panthera uncia)
  10. Leopards (Panthera pardus)
  11. Jaguars (Panthera onca)
  12. Tigers (Panthera tigris)
  13. Lions (Panthera leo)
  14. Bears (family Ursidae)
  15. Rhinoceros (family Rhinocerotidae)
  16. Elephants (family Elephantidae)
  17. Hippopotamuses (family Hippopotamidae)
  18. Cape buffalos (Syncerus caffer caffer)
  19. Crocodiles (except dwarf and Congo) (family Crocodilidae)
  20. Gavials (family Gavialidae)
  21. Black caimans (Melanosuchus niger)
  22. Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis)
Florida State Laws Relating to Private Possession of Exotic Animals

Summary of Law: It is unlawful for a person to possess any Class I Wildlife unless the animal was in possession prior to August 1, 1980. Class I Wildlife includes, but is not limited to the following: chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, leopards, jaguars, tigers, lions, bears, elephants, crocodiles, etc. Persons may possess Class II Wildlife if he or she obtains a permit from the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Class II Wildlife includes, but is not limited to the following: howler and guereza monkeys, macaques, cougars, bobcats, cheetahs, ocelots, servals, coyotes, wolves, hyenas, alligators, etc. All other wildlife in personal possession not defined as Class I or II Wildlife must obtain a no-cost permit. In addition, FL has promulgated regulations governing possession of Class II and III animals (caging requirements, etc.). In 2010, Florida passed state regulations prohibiting importation, sale, use and release of non-native species. The regulations include a ban on capturing, keeping, possessing, transporting or exhibiting venomous reptiles or reptiles of concern (listed python species, Green Anaconda, Nile monitor and other reptiles designated by the commission as a conditional or prohibited species.) Persons who hold pre-July 1, 2010, permits for these species may legally possess the species for the remainder of the reptile’s life. Traveling wildlife exhibitors who are licensed or registered under the United States Animal Welfare Act and licensed zoos are exempted.

Citation: FLA. ADMIN. CODE ANN. r. §68A-6.002, §68A-6.0021, and §68A-6.0022. FL ST. §379.231-2 (nonnative animals.) Source

Exotic & Wild Animals as Pets

The Florida Animal Control Association (FACA) is opposed to the keeping and sale of exotic animals and wildlife as pets for public safety and humane reasons. Frequently, problems associated with the keeping of these animals require the intervention of animal care and protection agencies. Common complaints include inadequate housing, insufficient medical attention, improper diet, removal of natural defenses, and confinement-related stress.

The high mortality rates associated with the capture and transport of wild animals and the serious depletion of wild populations are reasons enough to prohibit the keeping of wildlife as pets. Once the owner of a wild animal is no longer willing to care for it, the animal is usually unable to adapt to a wild environment, if released. With very few exceptions, formerly owned wildlife must be destroyed because of inadequate facilities to maintain them.

West Palm Beach Animal Cruelty Defense Attorney

Few law firms in Florida have as much experience-or as much success-defending people charged with animal cruelty or neglect, as the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A. in West Palm Beach. Andrew Stine has handled some of the biggest animal cases in Florida and has never lost a case.

Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Examples of animal cases include:

  • Animal cruelty involving dogs, cats, horses, and parakeets that were malnourished, poorly maintained, or abused
  • Dog-fighting cases involving pit bulls
  • Cock-fighting cases

In Florida, animal cruelty can be charged as anything from a civil infraction up to a felony. Those charges, as well as fines, add up when a person is charged with cruelty or neglect to a group of animals. Lawyer Andrew Stine won a test Florida case that established if a person is charged with animal neglect of a group of animals (such as 100 dogs or 25 horses), the person can only be charged with one crime.

Animal Cruelty Defense

Defense in animal cases usually involves a thorough investigation and expert testimony from veterinarians and other animal owners as to what the community standard is for taking care of animals. At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., we go beyond this basic defense strategy to help our clients avoid fines and other costs associated with the crime.

Our law firm has an exceptional track record of getting many animal cruelty charges dismissed prior to trial. Andrew Stine is also experienced in clearing arrest records through the expungement process. If your record has been cleared and you are asked on a job application or apartment lease if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you can confidently answer, “no.”

Animal Care and Control (ACC)

The ACC is responsible for the initial investigation in an animal cruelty complaint. Often they will walk through yards or look through fences for evidence police can use to obtain a search warrant. These searches walk a fine line between what is legal and what violates Fourth Amendment rights.

Andrew Stine loves animals and owns several. However, he loves people and protecting their rights more. If any evidence is obtained through an illegal search of property, he will strive to have that evidence suppressed and the case dismissed, if possible.

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