Effective Sunday, October 1, it is no longer legal for individuals to import, possess, breed or sell certain dangerous wild animals as pets in Maryland, including lions, tigers, servals, monkeys, wolves, wolf-dog hybrids, alligators and caimans.
Keeping wild animals as pets is dangerous and cruel, said Beth Preiss, director of the exotic pets campaign for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They can injure and kill; they can spread deadly disease; and the average pet owner cannot provide proper care for them.
The legislation was championed by Del. Pauline Menes who retired this year after 40 years of service in the House of Delegates.
The new rules are aimed at the pet trade and do not apply to legitimate animal sanctuaries, research facilities, or zoos and other exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture that operate primarily to display animals. The law allows people who already had these animals to keep them but only if they have notified the local animal control authority. Local governments can enact stricter regulations.
Under previous Maryland law, importation and sale of some wild animals were prohibited. The new law expands the list of prohibited animals and also prohibits possessing and breeding them.
The complete list of prohibited animals:
(1) fox, skunk, raccoon, or bear;
(2) caiman, alligator, or crocodile;
(3) member of the cat family other than the domestic cat;
(4) hybrid of a member of the cat family and a domestic cat if the hybrid weighs over 30 pounds;
(5) member of the dog family other than the domestic dog;
(6) hybrid of a member of the dog family and a domestic dog;
(7) non-human primate, including a lemur, monkey, chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, marmoset, loris, or tamarin; or;
(8) poisonous snake in the family groups of Hydrophidae, Elapidae, Viperidae, Crotolidae.