Saturday, April 25, 2009

Missouri Is The Most Dangerous In The Exotic Animal Trade

Missouri Is The Most Dangerous In The Exotic Animal Trade

By Chris Hayes
April 23, 2009
FESTUS, MO ( - Selling potentially dangerous exotic
animals as pets is big business in Missouri. Now a string of animal attacks
exposes a potential weakness in State Law. In recent months, we've seen reports
of everything from an alligator discovered by two kids in a Jefferson
County pond to a Tiger that mauled a man who was volunteering for a facility
called Wesa-A-Geh-Ya.

Now -- according to the Kentucky based Primate Rescue Center -- two recent
chimp attacks are linked to a Festus business called Chimparty.

Center founder April Truitt told Fox 2 that Chimp-party sold the chimp in
February's Stamford, CT rampage. Truitt told us Chimparty also sold the Pet
Chimpanzee in last month's Winston, Mo attack -- that ended when a police
officer shot it to protect himself.

Jason Coats said that's what he had to do back in 2001.

He said, "Just hearing them gives me the chills."

Several Chimparty chimps escaped and roamed into his Mom's yard. At first
he thought it was funny, until he said one of the animals pounded on his
friend's car -- while they were all inside.

Coats said, "[The chimp] was rocking the car back and forth, windmilling
on the windows."

Then he said his dog, lucky, tried protecting them. He said, "I'm thinking
he's going to run them off. Well, about this time, he bites the one,
Suzie, in the butt and it actually tore a piece of his flesh off and at that
point he kind of screamed and reached around and grabbed him threw him across
the back yard and I realized they're going to kill my dog."

He shot one of the chimps. Then a jury convicted him of felony animal
abuse and sent him to jail for a month. A neighbor had testified that the
chimps owners were trying to get the animals back into the Chimparty complex
they'd already been tranquilized.

Coats added, "Up until when I got attacked, I always thought it was kinda
cool living next door to them. You know, who gets to live next door to
basically an exotic farm?"

That might be why other exotics are showing up where you don't expect it.
People think it's cool, until they realize they can't handle a wild animal.
Like an alligator that showed up on Pacific pet shop owner Mike Pigg's
door step.

Pigg said, "There's a cardboard box. I thought it'd be puppies or kittens.
It was an american alligator."

He says he won't resell it, because it's just mean.

"Eventually that alligator will get big enough you know you're in deep
trouble," he said.

Then two weeks after the gator delivery? "I come to work -- there's a
pillow case on my door handle. I open the pillow case and there was a snake."

It's just too easy to own an exotic animal in Missouri. Pigg added, "I
guarantee you a lot of people would be surprised on what their neighbor has in
their house."

Macon, MO holds regular auctions. You can buy just about anything.

While Fox 2 has reported on many past auctions, owner Jim Lolli would not
allow cameras this year. He told us he wants to protect the identity of
customers who want to keep exotic animals without you knowing about it.

The Humane Society's Debbie Hill said, "It's frighteningly easy to obtain
an exotic animal in Missouri and there is very little knowledge or
enforcement of the current law."

That law? Only that you tell police you have an exotic animal. Hill
believes stricter laws would help discourage people from thinking they can tame
wild beast.

"Simply raising an animal from infancy does not mean you have domesticated
that animal. It is still a wild animal. A tiger is still a tiger. A
chimpanzee is still a chimpanzee."

That's how Jason Coats said he looked at it when he saw wild chimps in his
yard. He was only 17 when he was forced into a decision he wishes he never
had to make.

Coats added, "There's a lot of people trying to protect the chimps but
there's not a lot of people trying to protect the next 17 year old that's
going to be attacked or the next poor woman trying to help someone reign in a

No one from Chimparty would respond to our phone calls or our personal
visit. The Primate Rescue Center said Missouri is one of the worst three state
at regulating the ownership of exotic animals -- along with Texas and
Florida. Missouri Legislators are currently looking at two new bills that would
add guidelines and restrictions.

_Missouri General Assembly_ (

_HB 426 Large Carnivore Act Representative -Mike Sutherland -District 099_

_SB 227 Modifies provisions relating to dangerous animal registration-
Senator Tom Dempsey, District 23_

_Primate Rescue Center_ (


For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

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