By Sara Kirkley, Weekend Anchor / Reporter - email
When it comes to exotic animals, Nebraska's laws are on the lenient side.
"You do everything you're supposed to, you're not going to have any problems," said David King, co-owner of Magical Paradise Exotic Farm.
King and Deb Vesely own everything from an alligator to monkeys. Some of their animals require permits, while others don't.
"We just have to watch our rules and our laws so that we know," said Vesely.
Twenty–one states ban the private ownership of exotic animals. Thirteen states require permits.
Eight states, including Nebraska, have a partial ban. The remaining eight states have no license or permit requirements.
Fourteen pages of statute cover most of Nebraska's exotic animal laws, including a list of animals you need a permit to own.
"We have trumpeter swans. You have to have a federal permit to have them," said King.
For the most part, the statute states if you have the right permit, take reasonable measures to prevent escape and treat animals humanely few animals are off limits.
Nebraska Game and Parks Wildlife Division Administrator Scott Taylor tells NTV that laws on bringing exotic animals in and out of the state are clear; but once they're here, enforcement is trickier.
Each city has their own rules. No wild animals are allowed in Kearney, while Hastings and Grand Island have approved lists. Grand Island's animal code hasn't been changed since 1998.
"Some of the [reptiles] on our approved list have since been proven to be venomous animals," said April Liske-Clark, Hall County Animal Control lead officer. "I think we desperately need to take another look at that list."
The City of Grand Island has begun the process. However, assistant city attorney Stacy Nonhof says the section that includes animal code is a long chapter.
"It's going to be a months-long process before anything goes before council," she said.
Liske–Clark says she doesn't mind these exotic animals; she just wants to know they're there.
"Maybe we can be equipped to handle these type of calls," she said.
But, she says even the animals that currently require permits in Grand Island, like reptiles 12 inches or more – aren't being reported.
"I have none on file and I know that they're here," said Liske-Clark.
It's a concern for those not trained to deal with these exotic animals and for responsible owners.
"It's not only just to protect humans, it's to protect the animals too," said King.
You also need a permit to move some animals. King and Vesely are currently trying to get a USDA permit so that they can bring their monkeys and lemurs when they do educational programs at libraries, schools and nursing homes.