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Chimps' escape prompts push to ban exotic animals in Nevada

Chimps' escape prompts push to ban exotic animals in Nevada

By Rikki Cheese. CREATED Jul 16, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Long before Buddy and CJ escaped from their cage at home in Las Vegas, moves were underway to ban private ownership of exotic animals in residential neighborhoods.

According to State Senator Michael Roberson, "The Humane Society contacted me. They wanted to see this kind of legislation in Nevada based on what happened in Ohio last year when you had 50 or so wild animals intentionally set free."

Roberson says last week's episode highlights the need for legislation he's working on now.

He says, "Right now. you can have a wild animal that can be incredibly dangerous anywhere in Southern Nevada as long as you get a permit from Clark County. I'm going to try to stop that."

Wild animals ranging from primates to lions live in at least 14 county neighborhoods.

Until about a month ago, six tigers lived at 6775 Whispering Sands in the northwest part of the valley, but the next door neighbor says she was ok with that. She does not think private ownership of exotic animals should be banned.

The woman did not want to be identified, but tells Action News she was not afraid of the wild animals. She says, "They were locked down. There were several cages that they were into. It wasn't just one door that got in and out of there."

But cages are a concern.

There are no rules on what types of enclosures should be used for specific wild animals. Only animals involved in commercial ventures fall under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's purview. Buddy and CJ performed as Chimps-R-Us.

Even then, according to U.S.D.A. spokesman David Saxe, federal inspectors only check for health and safety under the Animal Welfare Act. Saxe says, if a private citizen wanted a tiger or a chimp as a pet, the U.S.D.A. would not be involved.

Roberson says he plans to have a draft of his exotic animal ban ready for the public to view within a couple of weeks. The U.S.D.A. will investigate Chimps-R-Us, and have a report ready for public view within 21 days of an inspection.





Rikki Cheese

Rikki Cheese

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Rikki Cheese is currently an anchor and reporter for Action News.