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FWC seeks experienced pet owners to adopt exotic species

For immediate release: November 7, 2013
Contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459; or Jorge Pino, 561-723-1417
Photos available on FWC Flickr site: Go to http://flic.kr/s/aHsjxR9XZX.
Video available on FWC YouTube site: Go to http://youtu.be/wikPDbUuG9A.
FWC seeks experienced pet owners to adopt exotic species


Are you an experienced pet owner interested in adopting an exotic species?
Do you know how to safely care for pets such as a boa constrictor, leopard gecko, African spurred tortoise, African grey parrot or sugar glider, and are you capable of a long-term commitment to their upkeep?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (SW CISMA) are offering qualified adopters the chance to take home exotic species turned in by those who no longer can keep these pets.

Qualified people can take advantage of an opportunity to adopt these animals at the Exotic Pet Amnesty Day on Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at North Collier Regional Park in Naples.
Exotic Pet Amnesty Days encourage owners to turn in their exotic pets without cost or penalty and discourage the release of nonnative species into the wild.

“We encourage people who would like to own nonnative animals to be responsible pet owners and fully understand the commitment before purchasing or adopting one. These animals may live for a long time, many over 10 years,” said Jenny Novak, who coordinates the FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty program. “People should not bring one of these animals home without understanding the level of responsibility and long-term commitment.”

The FWC is looking for adopters with the knowledge and expertise to care for exotic pets. Adopters must have an understanding of the natural history and safe caging requirements for the animals they are interested in adopting. Anyone interested in adopting can download the application forms at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives. There is no fee for becoming an adopter. Adoption applications must be received by Nov. 14 to be processed in time for this event.
“Releasing exotic pets into the wild is a major pathway to exotic species causing harm to Florida’s native wildlife and habitats,” Novak said. “Often, pet owners don’t understand the difference between native and nonnative species or 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 every attempt will be made to place healthy animals with qualified adopters.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day is free and open to the public. Live animals will be on display, and this is a chance for people to talk to experts about proper care of exotic pets. Also, this event will be held in conjunction with the Florida Panther Festival.

Learn more about the Florida Panther Festival at http://www.floridapantherfestival.com/.

For more information about Exotic Pet Amnesty Days, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives and click on “Amnesty Day Events.”