Ferndale considers ban on using exotic animals at events

Read the original article by Crystal A. Proxmire at freep.com here

The Ferndale City Council is considering a ban on the display or performance of wild or exotic animals on public or private property in the city.

The ordinance is on the consent agenda for Monday night’s City Council meeting and is expected to pass.  

“Some instances over the last few years of special events showcasing exotic animals and other events with animals that caused concerned has prompted us to review and create an ordinance to prohibit the misuse use of animals at events within the City,” City Manager April Lynch said in an introduction memo to the proposed ordinance.  

“Staff has shared our ordinance with the local PETA representatives who provided feedback, of which most was taken.”

Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter said he is in favor of the ordinance.

“These animals belong in their natural habitat, free of the abuses and conditions inherent in performing for us,” he said.  “It’s time Ferndale joins the many other cities and states that protect animals from being exploited and cruelly treated for our amusement.”

The issue has come up with at least two events in the past. Last year, organizers of the Brews, BBQ, and Bourbon event wanted to have piglet racing, but removed the event from the plans after push back on social media.

The Downtown Ferndale Holiday Ice Festival has traditionally had reindeer accompanying Santa Claus’ visit.  In that case, the animals came from a farm in Claire that had been vetted by the DDA, to ensure that the animals were humanely cared for. However, complaints on social media prompted the reindeer to be excluded from this year’s event.

Animals that are part of educational programming, such as presentations at the library or schools, are exempt from the ordinance.

According to the proposed ordinance, “Performance means any public showing, presentation, exposition, fair, act, circus, ride, trade show, petting zoo, carnival, parade, race, exhibition, or similar undertaking in which live animals are required to perform tricks, fight, compete or act as participants for the entertainment or amusement, or benefit of an audience.”

Violating the ordinance could result in misdemeanor charges. ”Each wild or exotic animal in each display or performance shall constitute a separate violation. Each day in violation of this ordinance shall constitute a separate violation,” the proposed ordinance states.

The animals prohibited are listed in the ordinance.  

“Wild or exotic animal, means any animal that is not a domestic animal and includes any or all of the following taxa, or similar orders and families whether bred in the wild or in captivity, and any hybrid with domestic animals. The animals listed in parentheses are intended as examples and are not to be construed as an exhaustive list or limit the generality of each group of animals listed, unless otherwise specified”:

  • Nonhuman primates (chimpanzees, monkeys)
  • Felidae (except domestic cats);
  • Canidae (except domestic dogs);
  • Ursidae (bears);
  • Proboscidae (elephants);
  • Crocodilia (alligators, crocodiles);
  • Marsupialia (kangaroos, opossums);
  • Reptilia snakes and reptiles of venomous variety or over 4 feet in length;
  • Artiodactyla (hippopotamuses, giraffes, camels, antelope, deer, elk, moose, reindeer, mountain goats;
  • Hyaenidae (hyenas);
  • Mustelidae (skunks, weasels, otters, badgers);
  • Mephitidae (skunks);
  • Procynonidae (raccoons, coatis);
  • Edentata (anteaters, sloths, armadillos);
  • Viverridae (mongooses, civets, and genets);
  • Perissodactyla, odd-toed hoofed mammals including, zebras, tapirs and rhinoceros; excluding the domesticated species of the family Equidae (horses,  donkeys, etc.);
  • Pinnipedia, including seals, sea lions and walruses;
  • Ratitae, such as ostriches, rheas, cassowaries and emus;
  • Elasmobranchii (sharks).

The ordinance is on the consent agenda, meaning that it will not be discussed unless a member of the council or the public asks for a discussion or a roll call vote.

The entire proposed ordinance is available on the City of Ferndale website.

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