A special report in Sunday’s St. Petersburg Times hopefully opened eyes about the serious problem of “exotic pets” in Florida. The report began by summarizing the problem, “Florida remains a haven for menageries. State records show about 4,500 people or businesses hold licenses to own everything from bears to boa constrictors.”
Among the many interesting points raised in the report is that the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) does not know exactly how many exotic animals are in Florida. Based on records the newspaper reviewed, they found that more than 500 Floridians are licensed to possess Class I and Class II animals– animals such as chimpanzees, tigers, lions, bears, cougars and monkeys that the FWC has determined “pose a danger to people.” The paper found that there are at least 456 tigers in private hands in Florida!
If you live in the Tampa/St. Pete area, you can find out if there are any tigers in cages in your neighborhood by using the paper’s interactive map (click here).