October 1, 2014

House bill would strengthen regulations on big cats and some primates

Travis the chimp, an animal that received international attention after tearing off a woman’s face and hands, was born at a farm in Missouri and later sold. Representative Jacob Hummel of St. Louis says Travis is one of several Missouri-born chimps that have had to be put down because they became violent. He wants the state to better track chimpanzees, apes and large exotic cats to prevent such tragedies from happening.

Animal owners came from throughout the state to oppose the bill. Connie Casey, who runs the Missouri Primate Foundation where Travis was born, says the fees imposed would force her to move from the state where she was born and raised.

Hummel’s bill would create rules for recovering escaped animals. He says 35 other states have restrictions on non-human primates. His bill would require more licensing on chimpanzees, apes and large exotic cats. It would also require owners to have recovery plans in place should an animal escape. He says exotic animal escapes are common, and this bill puts protections in place for both animal owners and the general public.

The head veterinarian at the St. Louis Zoo testified in favor of the bill.