A measure sponsored by state Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, would prohibit the private ownership of big cats and certain primates, such as chimpanzees and baboons, in counties with populations exceeding 75,000.
Lucio said more children have been injured by captive big cats in Texas than any other state. The Humane Society of the United States said the state has one of the worst records in the country, with 22 people killed and almost 500 injured since 1990 with incidents involving captive wild animals.
"These animals are not intended to be pets," Lucio said. "They deserve the care and respect that can only be provided by professional facilities."
Under current law, owners of wild animals must register with their municipality or county animal control office or sheriff. Private possession of big cats and primates is not prohibited and permitting requirements vary among counties. Ownership is allowed in unincorporated Harris County with a permit from the Public Health and Environmental Services agency. Within Houston city limits, it is unlawful for anyone to keep a wild animal.
More than 30 states have enacted laws that ban the possession of big cats and some primates, says the Humane Society.
More tigers than Asia?
"Lax laws in Texas make the state a haven for exotic pet owners and threaten the safety of our residents," said Katie Jarl, the Humane Society's Texas state director. "There may be more tigers in the Lone Star State than remain in the wild in Asia. Strong laws are urgently needed to prevent private owners from harboring wild animals who endanger communities."
Records show there are 32 "dangerous" animals kept in Harris County: five tigers, two hyenas, two cougars, a panther, a serval, an African lioness, six monkeys, seven lemurs, and seven binturongs, or bear cats.
The Humane Society said two children have been killed and more than four dozen people injured in Texas by captive animals. "These animals can cause death and inflict serious injury, which is why I introduced this public safety measure," Guillen said.
Source : http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/State-lawmakers-target-exotic-pet-ownership-4351414.php