Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Calls For Prohibition -- Not Permits -- On Keeping Certain Wild And Exotic Animals

Date, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today said that certain potentially dangerous wild and exotic animals -- now allowed at the discretion of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) -- should be entirely prohibited.

Blumenthal said the recent brutal near-fatal mauling of a Stamford citizen by a domesticated chimpanzee reveals grave loopholes in state law regarding the keeping of certain wild and exotic animals.

In letters to legislative leaders and DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy, Blumenthal urged that state law be revised and regulations promulgated banning residential possession of potentially dangerous animals, including large primates.

Existing law prohibits only a limited group of animals, including tigers, bears and wolves. Permission to possess almost all other wild animals is left to the discretion of the DEP, with no meaningful legislative guidance and only insignificant penalties for violations.

State law also authorizes municipalities to regulate or prohibit all wild or domestic animals, which many towns and cities do, but a more comprehensive and uniform approach to public safety seems necessary, Blumenthal said.

"Keeping exotic animals like chimpanzees, poisonous snakes or crocodiles in residential settings plays Russian Roulette with public safety," Blumenthal said. "I call for a legislative prohibition -- not permits -- for potentially dangerous exotic animals.

"Our state law is unconscionably lax -- imposing no real restrictions on wild and possibly perilous animals in homes. Legislative action is imperative to protect the interests of the public, as well as animals. Certain species, no matter how delightful or domesticated they seem, belong in their natural habitats or preserves, not suburbia.

"The horrific recent incident in Stamford -- causing very brutal, life-altering injuries -- spurred significant questions to my office about whether the keeping of a chimpanzee by a private citizen is illegal. Current state law contains no meaningful standards regarding the keeping of many such potentially dangerous wild animals including primates -- whose potential for violence can be very uncertain."