Las Vegas, NV February 15, 2007–Private owners of wild and exotic animals in the USA have been coming under ever increasing attacks from the animal rights (AR) activists and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Under the guise of pretending to care for public safety, they hide their real agenda: to end the private non AZA captive ownership of wild and exotic animals and have a monopoly on their captive breeding and exhibition.
According to Antitrust Division of Department of Justice, The Sherman Antitrust Act says: “An unlawful monopoly exists when only one firm controls the market for a product or service, and it has obtained that market power, not because its product or service is superior to others, but by suppressing competition with anticompetitive conduct.”
It also expresses national commitment to a free market economy in which competition free from private and governmental restraints leads to the best results for consumers.
Currently West Virginia, Indiana Missouri and Washington states already have anti exotic legislation introduced. Ohio and North Carolina will soon follow. In many other states and localities the similar legislation has already been passed, but is it constitutional and legal?
â€œSame possibly unconstitutional scenario has been happening in all casesâ€, says Zuzana Kukol, a Nevada tiger trainer and co-founder of “Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership”, www.REXANO.org, a new free web resource designed to give much needed tools and statistics based research material to private owners of exotic and wild animals to fight unfair legislation.
â€œAZA accredited zoos are always one of the groups supporting this legislation in the name of public safety while being exempt themselves. Looking at the fatalities caused by captive tigers in the USA since 1990, a person is almost 4 times more likely to be killed at an AZA zoo than by privately (non AZA) kept tiger.â€
â€œAZA is not a government agency; it is a powerful private group accrediting zoos and aquariums that have met certain standards and have enough money to get accreditedâ€ says Scott Shoemaker of REXANO.â€ Some AZA accredited Zoos might be privately owned, however, the typical AZA Zooâ€™s funding comes from a mix of public&private donationsâ€.
â€œThe Animal Rights Movement has been busy trying to take their extreme philosophy that animals must be ‘separated’ (‘Protected’ is the new euphemism) from people by law. They have been getting some help from the American Zoo & Aquarium Association (AZA). No longer is the AZA strictly in the business of accrediting Zoos and Aquariums. The AZA is endorsing a coalition of Animal Rights Groups (now called Animal Protection Groups) and AZA accredited Zoos to bring legislation to states prohibiting the private ownership of exotic animals, or to use the new AR catch phrase ‘dangerous wild animals,”
says Andrew Wyatt, President of ‘NC Association of Reptile Keepers’, www.NCARK.org .
â€œIt is in the interest of AZA Zoos to back these legislative proposals because when passed there can never be any competition enter the state. Without the AZA exemption all non-AZA institutions are driven out of business. An institution must already be established before they can apply for accreditation by the AZA… making it impossible for new institutions to start up because they lack the accreditation. AR groups seek legitimacy from being endorsed by AZA Zoos; and AZA Zoos seek a monopoly regarding who can work with exotic animals. Independent wildlife professionals, educators and breeders are destroyedâ€ adds Wyatt.
AZA Code of Professional Ethics advises: â€œUse only legal and ethical means when seeking to influence governmental legislation or regulationsâ€.
â€œInfluencing legislation from which one is being exempt and acquiring a monopoly in the process could hardly be considered ethical.â€ says Kukol.
â€œI am wondering if legislators might be assaulting Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitutions, ‘Equal protection of the law’, by introducing and passing these bills while exempting self accredited private group AZA from the new regulationsâ€ Kukol ponders. â€Any legislator should also see a red hypocritical flag when a private group supports new regulations that will benefit them but is exempted from them.â€
“Animals are personal property; and we oppose legislation that restricts the private ownership or use of animals, or that inhibits free trade of any animal provided it meets Ohio Department of Agriculture testing and import requirements” adds Polly Britton, Ohio Association of Animal Owners (www.OAAO.us) secretary.
â€œAs long as animal welfare and public safety laws are being followed, the private (non governmental, non AZA) ownership of exotic and wild animals should be legal and protected in the USAâ€ says Shoemaker.
â€œControl the land and the animals, then you control the people,â€ states Kim Bloomer a natural pet care educator, professional lecturer, host of the online radio show Animal Talk Naturally www.AnimalTalkNaturally.com.
â€œThere is a hidden agenda with regard to all of these laws and it has nothing to do with public safety or concerns for good animal care. Rather, it is about eroding or removing American freedoms, the right to own as many animals as we can provide for.â€
Current focus of REXANO is to reverse the trend in over regulation, with the desire that in the near future to work on repealing excessive regulations and bans on private ownership of exotics.