The Province reported last week that the British Columbia government has announced new restrictions on the keeping of exotic animals deemed dangerous to the public. Here is the list of banned species. The list of mammals is lengthy: primates, foxes and wolves, wild cats, bears, hyenas, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and African buffalo. As for birds, they’re banning cassowaries, which attack (and have killed) people. Three species of poison frog are also banned, none from the commonly kept genus Dendrobates. The reptiles that are banned are exactly the ones that are banned in Toronto: all venomous reptiles, all crocodilians, boas and pythons over three metres and monitor lizards over two metres.
It’s very hard to argue against this list. It’s been my position that keeping exotic animals in captivity should be permitted so long as the following criteria can be met:
- Keeping the animal does not pose a risk to public safety or to the health and safety of the keeper or their family.
- The keeper is able to provide proper care for the animal (this covers both individual competence and whether it’s even possible to keep this thing alive in captivity).
- The animal is not an endangered or threatened species; the survival of the species is not adversely affected by its popularity as an exotic pet.
The animals the B.C. government is prohibiting fail criteria number one, which is kind of fundamental. We’ve so often had to deal with arbitrary restrictions on exotic pets that seem to defy logic, bans on animals that are harmless, gentle, easy to care for and prolific in the wild, but that happen to be reptiles, so they’re out. This is not one of those times, and I’m not going to the barricades over this one.