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FWC needs experienced pet owners to adopt exotic species

For immediate release: March 2, 2012
Contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459; or Jorge Pino, 561-723-1417
FWC needs experienced pet owners to adopt exotic species

Are you an experienced pet owner interested in adopting an exotic species?
Do you know how to care for pets such as a boa constrictor, leopard gecko, African spurred tortoise, African grey parrot or sugar glider?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Zoo Miami are offering qualified adopters the chance to take home an exotic pet turned in by those who no longer can keep them.

Those opportunities will come at Exotic Pet Amnesty Day in Miami on March 10.

Florida is the one state in the continental United States regularly holding Exotic Pet Amnesty Days to encourage owners to turn in their exotic pets without cost or penalty and discourage the release of nonnative species into the wild.

“We are looking for adopters with the knowledge and expertise to care for exotic pets,” said Jenny Novak, who coordinates the FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty program. “We expect quite a few nonnative animals to be turned over at the Exotic Pet Amnesty Day in Miami, so we want to make sure we have safe homes for them.”

Pet adopters must be pre-qualified to receive surrendered animals. Anyone interested in adopting exotic pets can download the application forms at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives. Adopters must have knowledge of natural history and safe caging requirements for the animals they are interested in adopting. There is no fee for becoming an adopter.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day at Zoo Miami will be Saturday, March 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will be free and open to the public. Adoption applications must be received by March 8 to be processed in time for this event.

“Releasing exotic pets is a major pathway by which exotic species find their way into native habitats,” Novak said. “Often, pet owners don’t understand the difference between native and nonnative species, or they don’t realize the possible effects of releasing a nonnative species. Releasing exotic species is also illegal in Florida. This event offers a legal, ethical option for pet owners who can no longer take care of their pets or no longer wish to keep them.”

A veterinarian will examine each animal, and the healthy animals will be placed with qualified adopters.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day is also a family event. Live animals will be on display. This is a chance for people to not only see exotic animals, but get up close and even touch them. Experts also will be on hand to talk about proper care of exotic pets.