Friday, March 31, 2023 | Back issues
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Sidebar: The legal jungle of exotic pets

In the strange and wild land of Texas, exotic animals normally found in zoos and aquariums are all the rage in homes as pets. What could possibly go wrong?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 60 million American households have pets. That is a ton of good boys and girls out there. But have you ever stopped and wondered about the laws that define pet ownership? Are there specific pets that you can’t own where you live? How regulated is the pet trade? And what about exotic animals, where the sale and trade of such creatures is a state-by-state issue?

In this episode, we break down the wild and wooly world of pet law — from the protections granted (or not so much) in the Animal Welfare Act to the effect that Netflix's breakout pandemic hit "Tiger King" may have had on getting the Big Cat Public Safety Act passed and what's next for regulating primate ownership in the U.S.

And it's not just big mammals that need to be regulated to stop wreaking havoc on communities, but also pythons and feral cats. In Florida, the Burmese python population has exploded so much that the state has declared open season on them, allowing them to be hunted year-round without a license or permit. And nationwide, the songbird population has declined by drastic numbers due to the skilled hunting of cats.

Special guests:

Sidebar tackles the top stories you need to know from the legal world. Join reporters Hillel Aron, Kirk McDaniel, Amanda Pampuro and Nina Pullano as they take you in and out of courtrooms in the U.S. and beyond and break down developments to help you understand how they affect your day-to-day life.

Kirk McDaniel produced this episode. Intro music by The Dead Pens. A transcript of this episode is available.

Editorial staff is Bill Dotinga, Sean Duffy and Jamie Ross.

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