Tampa's Big Cat Rescue took in five tigers from an animal sanctuary in Colorado Thursday morning.
The rescue's mission is to save cats from captivity, even from someone's backyard; but just how easy is it for someone to buy an exotic animal?
“In Florida, it's illegal to own a big cat but you can get around that by saying I'm an exhibitor and purchase a $40 U.S.D.A exhibitor license,” says Susan Bass with Big Cat Rescue.
You can find the paperwork to become an exhibitor online.
We also searched 'How to buy exotic animals?' online.
With a few thousand dollars, you can buy a camel, pig, zebra or even a possum; but you can probably find one of those in your backyard. That’s just a few of the animals we found.
Dalton Colburn works at Pinellas County Reptile and exotic pets. He has to break the bad news to customers all the time: owning some of those animals is illegal.
“Monkeys, crocodiles, alligators, komodo dragons, and illegal iguanas are just some of what they ask for,” says Colburn.
"During the winter, many customers want to buy monkeys," says Colburn.
With it being fairly easy to get your hand on one of these exotic pets, Big Cat Rescue is trying to stop it, at least for owning big cats.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act is pending in Congress right now.
“Phase out the public ownership of Big Cats. People who own these cats can keep them. They would be grandfathered in as long as they registered the cats. They can no longer acquire anymore or breed the ones they have,” says Bass.
Another thing it would do is ban the public from handling cubs. Bass says people make a lot of cash by letting people take pictures with them.
10News reached out to Florida Fish and Wildlife amd they said as long as you have the permits and meet the cage requirements then you're allowed to own animals like bears, lions, and even elephants.
Remember, it's not for personal possession but again:
“If you say 'Oh, I’m an exhibitor and I have a small zoo' or whatever then for 40 bucks you fill out the questions and you can get a cat,” says Bass.
FWC investigators do routine inspections of captive wildlife facilities to make sure these animals are being treated well and are living in a clean place.
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