A bill to restrict ownership of dangerous exotic pets in Wisconsin is being proposed by a state lawmaker. It’s from state Senator Van Wangaard (R-Racine), who’s been working the measure since well before the Milwaukee lion was sighted.
Wangaard says he understands the appeal of exotic bets, citing a friend who owns an alligator, and his own experience handling baby big cats as a board member at the Racine County Zoo. “You realize that they are really cute and cuddly, and neat to pet when they are 10 pounds. but when they get up to 25-30 pounds they are no longer a cuddly little cat, they are a wild animal. And a lot of people don’t realize that,” Wangaard said.
The bill, currently being circulated for cosponsors, defines dangerous exotics as nonnative big cats including lions and tigers; nonnative bears including brown bears and polar bears; apes including gorillas, chimpanzees, and gibbons; and crocodilians: alligators, crocodiles, and caimans. Some local municipalities have more restrictive ordinances, and Wangaard said the legislation would allow those to remain in place.
Wangaard noted that only a handful of states have any restrictions in place and Wisconsin is not one of them. “So when people want to do this, and own them without any fear of repercussion, they’re going to gravitate towards those states that don’t have any laws in place,” he said. People who already own such pets could keep them until they die – but they’d have to get permits for them.