Wild Nebraska: What You Need to Know to Own Exotic
By Sara Kirkley, Weekend Anchor / Reporter - email
Monkeys and lemurs are some of the cute creatures that are currently privately owned here in Nebraska.
But, should you bring one of these exotic animals home?
Experts say buying an exotic animal without knowing the facts isn't a good idea.
"[Buying] on a whim or just to get something unique as a pet, very scary," said Laurie Dethloff, executive director of the Central Nebraska Humane Society.
Many of the pets people rethink end up at Dethloff's shelter. Sometimes they're not puppies.
"I love alligators. They're small, but they don't stay this small," said April Liske-Clark, lead Hall County Animal Control officer.
Liske-Clark warns against taking in wild animals. She says she doesn't believe exotic animals can be domesticated.
"It's not like when you go out and catch a dog. You learn to read the behavior, the tail wagging, the ears, the position. You can't really do that with a boa or even a monkey for that matter," said Liske-Clark.
But, Magical Paradise Exotic Farm co-owner Deb Vesely says, with some research, you can train yourself to be a responsible exotic animal owner.
"The monkeys and the lemurs, you always have to be cautious that it can bite or turn on you, but a dog and a cat can too," said Vesely.
She and her partner say information is the key.
"We really push reading because that's where I learned about my stuff," said David King, farm co-owner.
"Do I have the cage? Do I have the money? Do I have the time? Am I going to be able to feed it?" Vesely says these are all questions that need to be asked.
The Humane Society is asking the same questions as they take in exotic runaways. They've had five reports in the last three years.
"Are their veterinarians that can provide appropriate care? What's their food? Is that easily available? What activities do they need? A certain perimeter of pen to be in? [What] activities [are needed] for their mental health as well as their physical health," said Dethloff.
Above all, authorities say, use common sense and know the dangers.
"I don't care where you live. With a five or 6 foot long alligator, it's probably not a good idea," said Liske-Clark.
Vesely and King bring this advice and more to students through library and school programs. They tell kids, if you see an animal in the wild, don't touch it.
Also, if you already own an exotic pet, do not release it into the wild.
Permits are also needed for some animals. For more information on the rules, check out part two of this NTV Special Report: Wild Nebraska: Rules for Owning Exotic Animals.