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FWC to host nonnative pet amnesty day, seeking good homes for surrendered animals

News Release

March 3, 2011
Contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

In an effort to keep unwanted exotic pets out of Florida’s native habitats, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Zoo Miami will host Nonnative Pet Amnesty Day on March 12 at Zoo Miami.

Among the 70 exotic pets turned in during last year’s event were eight Burmese pythons, 16 red-eared sliders, two parrots and one monkey.

“The most common reason exotic pets end up in Florida’s wilderness is because their owners release them there,” said Jenny Tinnell, a nonnative biologist with the FWC. “Often, pet owners don’t understand the difference between native and nonnative species, or they don’t realize the effects releasing a nonnative species can have.”

“The amnesty event gives pet owners who can no longer take care of their pets or no longer wish to keep them a legal, ethical option,” she said.

The FWC is looking for potential adopters in South Florida who are experienced pet owners and willing to provide a home for one or two more. All adopters must fill out an application form before they receive surrendered animals.

“This isn’t just a free pet giveaway,” Tinnell said. “We’re looking for adopters with knowledge and expertise in caring for exotic pets, not people who have always wanted a pet and think this is a way to own an exotic pet at no cost.”

Pet Amnesty Day at Zoo Miami is free and open to the public. Pet owners can surrender exotic animals to FWC representatives from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. next Saturday, with no questions asked and no penalties. The zoo is located at 12400 S.W. 152nd St.

A veterinarian will examine each animal, and the FWC will attempt to place all healthy animals with qualified adopters. Amnesty Day is also a family event featuring live animals and experts who will provide information about caring for exotic pets.

Anyone interested in adopting nonnative pets should download the adoption application at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives. Adopters must have knowledge of a species’ natural history and caging requirements and have proper facilities for the animals they are interested in adopting. There is no fee for being an adopter.