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Buck the 12-foot Burmese python, Jaws the alligator snapping turtle and another python named Bruno were among the exotic (and illegal) animals recently turned in at an amnesty event for owners who could no longer care for their wild pets.
But these critters weren't living in the tropics. This amnesty day was held in a major metropolitan area.
According to The New York Times, the trio was handed over last week to zookeepers during the Connecticut Beardsley Zoo’s Exotic Animal Amnesty Day in Bridgeport, Conn.
It was the second time that the zoo hosted the event. The first one was held two years ago after Charla Nash was mauled by a friend’s chimpanzee in Stamford, Conn., raising questions about exotic animal ownership.
Case in point: The men who brought in these pythons said they were “just overgrown house pets.”
Officials hope that such amnesty programs, along with changes in state laws, may help to prevent tragedies like the Charla Nash case, as well as the terrifying incident that took place in Zanesville, Ohio. Last fall, authorities were forced to kill dozens of animals — including lions, tigers and primates — after their owner set them free before fatally shooting himself.
Ever since that debacle, Ohio legislators have been working to pass a ban on owning exotic pets. And, earlier this year, federal officials announced a ban on the importation and interstate transportation of four types of invasive snakes, including the Burmese python.
In the Sunshine State, amnesty days are held much more frequently. The hope is that such events will stop owners from releasing overgrown (and dangerous) snakes into the wild, a trend that has wreaked havoc on the delicate ecosystem in the Florida Everglades.
Just last month, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials took in 54 exotics at an amnesty day held at Zoo Miami.
But that's nothing compared to the largest number of exotic pets collected at a Miami event in 2008: According to the Orlando Sentinel, officials took in 148 animals.
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