A proposal that would eventually phase out individual ownership of lions, apes or other “exotic” animals has crossed over to the South Carolina Senate.
The state House last week overwhelmingly approved a bill 99-5 which would bar those who do not already own big cats, great apes, or non-native bears from buying them after 2018.
It would allow those who already own the animals to register with their county’s animal control office, but the owner would have to apply for a federal Department of Agriculture permit if they want new animals.
“Anybody who has them now, they’re grandfathered,” State Rep. Bill Hixon, R-North Augusta said. “But anybody that wants to start new after 2018, they would have to go through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
South Carolina is one of just five states that has no restrictions on exotic mammals. Hixon said the bill is meant as a preemptive measure so county officials will know who owns potentially dangerous animals that could escape in their jurisdiction.
The measure would require anyone who wishes to own such animals after 2018 get the same Department of Agriculture permit. Those who do not register face a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail for a first offense.