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Dangerous Exotic Animals Law in Louisiana

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Wild animals as pets are almost always a bad idea and in many states, including Louisiana, potentially dangerous exotic pets are against the law.

Louisiana generally bans citizens from owning many wild animals including that Oz trio of lions, tigers and bears or at least the grizzly bear, black bear, and polar bear. Hey, what about the brown bear?

It's apparently not on the list of potentially dangerous animals - specifically wild quadruped and non-human primates - that are prohibited in Louisiana. It's against the law, specifically La. Admin Code. tit. 76, pt. V, § 115, to possess or buy or sell or import (in any way specifically including internet transactions) those listed critters in Louisiana unless within an exception, according to the state law as reported by the Animal Legal and Historical Center.

In addition to those lions, tigers, and bears, the prohibited species include other big exotic cats, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, and mountain lions, as well as their subspecies and hybrids. Red and gray wolves are also on the list.

And pet monkeys - along with all non-human primate pets - are not legal in Louisiana. Now you know why you never see an organ grinder with a monkey in the French Quarter, when you see just about everything else. Actually there were monkeys dressed as pirates in the French Quarter during Carnival that were allegedly service animals but were seized by authorities.

Now for the exceptions to the ban:

The Grandfather Clause:

There is a grandfather provision in the law, an owner of a prohibited animal at the time the law went into effect, could get an annual permit to keep that animal and only that animal until it died or was moved from the state. In other words, the person could not keep add any new animal legally, even if created by breeding grandfathered animals.

Disability Service Monkeys:

The other major exemption to private individual citizen ownership pertains only to monkeys that provide assistance to a disabled individual. A human primate may get a permit for only a single non-human primate for such purpose.

The Mike Clause:

LSU has an exemption especially for Mike the Tiger, who lives in an extravagant habitat on LSU's Baton Rouge campus. However Mike is never mentioned by name in the statute and neither are LSU or the tiger species. In round-about language, a big exotic cat traditionally kept as a mascot by a Louisiana college... is exempted.

Zoos and Research:

Credentialed zoos, like New Orleans Audubon Zoo, and federally defined research facilities, like the three Louisiana primate centers, are exempt from the prohibition.

Animal Sanctuaries, other zoos, educational facilities:

Although not automatically exempt, such sanctuaries can apply for a permit to keep prohibited species to be issued by the Louisiana Secretary of of Wildlife and Fisheries on a case by case basis.

Circus Animals:

Regulated circuses that are temporarily in the state of Louisiana are also exempted with certain limits.

Just Passing Through:

Banned animals that are traveling through the state are allowed 24 hours of such transport to avoid the impact of the law.

Snakes:

Another provision in Louisiana law deals with permits for venomous snakes or very long constrictive snakes.

Louisiana Tiger in the News:

Another Louisiana tiger - this one named Tony - is in the news on occasion. He's a roadside attraction at Tiger Truck Stop in Iberville Parish. Tony was permitted under the grandfather clause and has been the subject of legal action to remove him from the interstate truck stop display.

An animal rights defense fund sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in an attempt to remove Tony from the truck stop. A Baton Rouge court ordered that no new permits be issued for Tony, agreeing with the animal group's argument that only an individual, and one that lives on the premises, could legally be permitted. The permit holder for Tony was the Tiger Truck Stop not an individual. In October 2011, the appeals court sent the case back for another hearing which would include truck stop owner. At the original hearing, only attorneys for the animal group and the state participated.

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