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Eye On Olympia

THURSDAY, FEB. 26, 2004, 4:07 P.M.

About that elephant in your back yard…

If you're thinking of getting a pet rhino, do it soon. A bill to ban private ownership of a long list of wild animals is stampeding through the Legislature.

Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1151 would ban possession of "potentially dangerous wild animals," including:

-lions, tigers and bears,
-wolves, hyenas and rhinoceroses,
-lemurs, monkeys, chimps and gorillas,
-jaguars, leopards, cheetahs and captive-bred cougars,
-crocodiles, alligators or elephants,
-or any venomous snake, including rattlesnakes, cobras, mambas, African twig snakes, coral snakes and something called a boomslang.

Zoos, wildlife refuges, research facilities and the like are exempt.

But what to do if you already have a gator, rattler, boomslang or chimp? Well, the good news is that the law -- which still must pass the Senate -- would grandfather in any animals currently owned, allowing them to be kept until 2009. After that, local animal control officials decide whether to allow continued possession of the beast.

Violators would be subject to fines of up to $2,000 per animal per day.

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