Bring in your boas and alligators!
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The state’s first-ever day of amnesty to allow owners of exotic animals to turn in their illegally owned pets netted boa constrictors, pythons, alligators and an anaconda Saturday.
State officials at the Bridgeport Zoo asked about the animals’ diets, medical history and temperament, but owners weren’t asked their names. In Connecticut, it’s illegal to own large, potentially dangerous wild animals.
“Over the years, we’ve gotten many calls about exotic reptiles, large snakes and crocodiles that are in people’s homes or released in Connecticut waterways,” said Susan Frechette, deputy commissioner for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “We were looking for ways to give people an opportunity to find other means to get the animals in appropriate settings.”
Katie Norton, 29, of Norwalk, sobbed as she handed over her veiled chameleon named Suzanne.
“She was just cramped in the house, and she didn’t have much of a life,” Norton said.
Frechette said Connecticut’s first exotic amnesty day netted at least 135 animals, most of them exotic reptiles. According to an early count, officials were given 15 boa constrictors, 15 pythons, 7 alligators, a small monkey, a rattlesnake, and anaconda and an assortment of turtles, parrots and other small animals.
Florida also has exotic animal amnesty days, Frechette said.
Jeff Seepes, 44, of Norwalk, turned over his American alligator named Petey. Had Connecticut not offered the amnesty, Seepes said he would have likely taken Petey down south and released him in the wild where he’d “just be a meal for another gator.”
Seepes said he often swam with Petey in his swimming pool and fed him chicken cutlets and fish.
“He was great,” Seepes said. “He bit me a few times, but he’s very tame.”