COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)—The South Carolina House passed a bill Thursday that would make it illegal to have exotic animals like lions, tigers, jaguars, bears, chimpanzees, and gorillas as pets. The bill now goes to the state Senate.
The bill would prohibit buying, selling, importing, owning, or even possessing the animals.
On the banned list are: all lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs, snow leopards, and clouded leopards; all bears that are not native to South Carolina and not subject to oversight by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; and all great apes, to include all species of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.
Someone who already legally has one of the animals on January 1, 2018, would be able to keep it for the rest of the animal’s life, as long as: they register the animal with the animal control authority in the city or county where they live and pay a one-time fee of $500; they present a contingency plan to protect first responders by providing for the quick and safe recapture of the animal in case of an escape; maintain all veterinary records and all acquisition papers proving that they owned the animal before January 1, 2018; they maintain proper housing under the federal Animal Welfare Act; they notify animal control, the local sheriff’s department and police department, if applicable, as soon as they discover the animal has escaped, and pay any costs associated with the escape and recapture; and they comply with all federal, state, and local laws or regulations that apply to owning the animals.