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New Nevada Law Puts More Teeth Into Exotic Animal Regulations

Harry and George greet a visitor at the Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson.
Terry Ott via Flickr

Harry and George greet a visitor at the Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson.

A new Nevada law seeks greater regulations of exotic animal ownership, including limiting how the public can come in contact with dangerous captive animals. 

Sen. James Ohrenschall, a Democrat from Las Vegas, sponsored the legislation, Senate Bill 344. He told State of Nevada he wants to target quick-buck artists who look to make money off their exotic animals by exhibiting them at parties or even in Strip hotel rooms.

"There are certain exotic dangerous wild animals that I certainly am not qualified to take care of, and I think most of the general public is not qualified to take care in terms of the animals' health and safety and also the public's health and safety,"  

The law provides a list of "dangerous wild animals" that includes monkeys, wolves, bears, lions, tigers, and other big cats.

Wild animal exhibiter Keith Evans, president of Henderson's Lion Habitat Ranch, said that without checks of animals arriving in Nevada, he fears unscrupulous owners will ignore the new law and border checks are needed to identify animals comint into Nevada.

"Even with a no-contact law, without a border (checkpoint), somebody can come in from out of state, sneak these animals in, and nobody knows about it," he told State of Nevada.

Evans said the new law would not affect his operations because he already complies with stricter Clark County regulations. 

James Ohrenschall, state senator, District 21 ; Jeff Dixon, Nevada director, Humane Society of the United States; Keith Evans, president, Lion Habitat Ranch; Scott Shoemaker, founder, Rexano

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Kristen Kidman is a former senior producer at KNPR’s State of Nevada and is proud to be from Las Vegas.