New restrictions could be put in place for owning an exotic animal in New York under legislation proposed this week by state Sen. Monica Martinez.
The measure announced Wednesday would bar exotic animals from being traded, imported, sold or owned as pets as wild animals. The definition of wild animals in New York would also expand under the measure.
“Wild and exotic animals require specific conditions and environments to survive," Martinez said. "The habitats in which these animals live in the wild are far from conditions that exist in New York. Any business operating with the intent of profiting by selling these exotic animals should be held accountable under the law for the unethical treatment of animals."
The measure would define a wild animal in New York as an indigenous, non-domesticated animal that is native to the country in which they live. An exotic animal would be defined as a wild animal with an origin from a different continent. Animals like sloths, kangaroos, hyenas, elephants, wallabies and armadillos would be affected.
Wildlife experts have warned against owning exotic animals and the danger they can pose to people and other pets.
"Wild animals are not pets and treating them like dogs or cats endangers children and animals alike," said John Di Leonardo, an anthrozoologist and the executive director of Humane Long Island.
Zoos and wildlife sanctuaries would not be affected by the proposal.
State lawmakers in recent years have sought to address the animal trade. A new law set to take effect next year will ban the retail sale of pets. New York has also sought to limit the ivory trade in the state.