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Connecticut bans private ownership of 3 primates

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Jul 23, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Hartford, Conn. — A Connecticut bill that would have banned private ownership of everything from snakes to elephants was shot down, but lawmakers did agree to ban three types of primates in the 11th hour.

The initial exotic-animal bill was introduced after a pet chimpanzee critically injured a woman earlier this year.

Charla Nash, 55, was attacked in February by a 200-pound chimpanzee owned by her friend, Sandra Herold. Nash received severe injuries to her face and hands and was blinded in the attack. The 14-year-old chimp, Travis, was killed by police.

Lawmakers argued animals needed to be grandfathered in and that the bill could hurt long-standing businesses, like an elephant farm in Goshen.

Ultimately, they harkened back to a 2004 bill already approved in the state that banned large cats, wolves and bears. The 2004 bill charged the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with creating a permit program for other exotic pets, including primates. But that program never was implemented.

Since legislators could not agree on an all-out exotic-animal ban, the night before the 2009 session drew to a close, they approved a bill to halt private ownership of gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans.

The bill includes a provision allowing the DEP to prohibit ownership of other exotics, as long as it holds public hearings beforehand.