REXANO Position Statement Regarding Private ownership of captive
Exotic and Wild animals in USA
Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership
REXANO believes that owning exotic and wild animals is a rewarding experience that brings
great joy and happiness to many. With this privilege comes great responsibility and long-term
emotional and financial commitment.
We advise potential exotic and wild animal owners to closely evaluate their lifestyle before
deciding to obtain an exotic animal and to give careful consideration to what species will best suit
REXANO advises potential owners to seek reputable and ethical breeders. All existing owners
should provide proper care, training and socialization to ensure that their animals remain happy
well behaved members of their family and won’t end up unwanted and spend their life in already
Exotic owners have responsibilities not only to their animal’s welfare, but also to their neighbors,
by keeping them safe by providing proper, structurally sound containment for their exotic
The Right to Keep and Enjoy Exotic and Wild Animals
The human-animal bond predates history. Since the dawn of civilization, people have enjoyed the
companionship and assistance of animals. All animals used to be wild before humans
domesticated them. Animal ownership has existed in all cultures, races, climates and economic
situations - by monarchs, kings, monks, nomads, and peasants.
Today, many exotic animals are used as therapy or assistance animals for war veterans, accident
victims and senior citizens in nursing homes. REXANO strongly supports property rights and
endorses the right to own, keep and breed exotic and wild animals in a responsible and humane
Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act
The federal Animal Welfare Act, AWA, enforced by the Animal Care (AC) division of U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), regulates wholesale breeders, dealers, exhibitors and
caretakers of animals.
The AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for most warm-
blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or
exhibited to the public. This includes animals exhibited in zoos, circuses, and marine mammal
facilities as well as pets transported on commercial airlines.
The USDA has regularly strengthened the standards for humane care and treatment of animals
regulated under the Act.
REXANO supports increasing the number of USDA enforcement personnel dealing with
wholesale animal operations and strong enforcement of the requirements of the Animal Welfare
Proper Care and Humane Treatment of Exotic Animals
REXANO believes that all exotic and wild animals should be properly cared for and kept in clean
living conditions, protected form severe weather elements, with proper diet and fresh water
available at all times.
We believe many exotic and wild animals, mammals and birds especially, benefit from human
companionship and positive reinforcement training. Toys and leash walking of mammals
provides a much needed exercise and behavioral enrichment in captive settings.
Air Travel for Exotic and Wild Animals
REXANO support training airline personnel regarding the needs of exotic and wild animals in
transport to ensure the safest air travel and adequate environment. It is vital for exotic pet
owners, breeders, zoos and exhibitors to be able to safely ship exotic animals for personal
enjoyment as well as propagation of species in captivity.
REXANO opposes the concept of animal rights, AR, which seeks to end the captive keeping of
all animals and seeks to abolish any contact between humans and animals. Rights come with
responsibilities, a concept that can not be understood by animals.
REXANO supports animal welfare, AW, laws that seek to improve living conditions of captive
animals without interfering with the rights of the owners to choose what they consider to be best
for their animal.
We support strong animal abuse and anti-cruelty penalties for those convicted of cruelty against
REXANO opposes violence committed against commercial and non-commercial (pet) animal
owners, animal handlers, kennels, zoos, circuses and research facilities by those who object to the
keeping and use of animals. We support the right of all individuals to express personal opinions
in lawful ways.
We support the right of Americans to own, breed, train, transport, interact with, and exhibit their
animals without interference. We oppose illegal actions such as the "liberation" of animals or
destruction of property.
REXANO strongly opposes ban laws against private exotic and wild animal ownership. Bans and
extreme regulation requirements often cause increases in the number of illegal animals.
It is unfair to force well cared for exotic and wild animals out of their loving home, forcing
perfectly legal owners to choose between giving up their beloved non-human family member or
keep the animal illegally. This creates black market where animals will not get proper medical
care out of owner’s fears of being caught.
If the owner gives up the newly banned animal, it increases the number of homeless animals in
need of a new home and puts a strain on already overcrowded and financially strapped rescue
centers and sanctuaries.
We support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the public (such as double gate and
perimeter fence laws for large carnivores).
We support animal welfare laws (not to be confused with animal rights) that do not restrict the
rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities of owning exotic animals seriously.
Breeding Restrictions, Spaying and Neutering
REXANO believes it is a matter of personal choice for pet owners to spay or neuter their exotic
animals as a responsible means to prevent accidental breeding resulting in unwanted animals.
REXANO opposes mandatory spay/neuter of animals and opposes exotic animal breeding bans
which is regulation to extinction (hyper link to article). Animals are considered property under
US legal system, and therefore the choice to breed/spay/neuter should be left up to the animal
We strongly encourage breeders and potential new owners to educate themselves about
commitments and responsibilities before purchasing any animal to minimize the number of
unwanted and homeless animals.
REXANO supports legal captive breeding of exotic animals. Many animal species are becoming
endangered in the wild and many are near extinction. Captive breeding, especially in private
sector, saved many animals from extinction by providing supply of captive bred animals and
therefore reducing the pressures on wild populations, thus helping to conserve them in the wild.
We encourage the public to educate themselves about owning an exotic animals and visit current
owners and USDA licensed breeders, and check references if possible, to see first hand what is
involved in exotic animal ownership. Do not buy on impulse.
Responsible Breeding Practices
REXANO believes that responsible exotic animals’ breeders should to give careful consideration
to health issues, temperament, and genetic screening, as well as to the individual care and
placement of the offspring in responsible home.
We oppose the breeding of exotic animals without regard for the animals' welfare. We support
enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and state and local regulations governing the
humane care of animals.
Protection for Buyers
REXANO believes breeders and/or sellers should be responsible for providing certain refunds,
replacements or reimbursements should the exotic animal sold become ill or die from a condition
contracted prior to the purchase.
We advise buyers and sellers to keep written record of all transactions signed by all parties
involved, such as veterinary records and clearly defined sale agreement, to be on hand should
complications or disagreements arise.
REXANO supports euthanasia only as a last resort when all reasonable efforts to place adoptable
exotic animals in proper new homes have failed. In cases of extreme emergencies where the
public is at serious risk and after all other options of tranquilizing have failed, humanely killing
an exotic animal should be an option.
Tooth and Claw Removal (declawing and defanging)
REXANO supports the owners’ right to decide whether to do claw removal (declawing), and
tooth removal (defanging) when done by licensed veterinarian. It should remain to be a ‘personal
choice’, legal option for all animal owners.
Use of Exotic Animals in Research
REXANO recognizes the invaluable contributions to both human and veterinary medical
knowledge that have resulted from medical research on animal subjects. We believe that non-
invasive behavioral and enrichment research can provide invaluable information and improve
practices related to captive breeding and husbandry of exotic and wild animals.
Use of Exotic Animals in Zoos, Circuses and Educational Programs
REXANO supports public exhibits of exotic and wild animals. Entertaining and educational
exotic and wild animal shows can spark interest in conserving them in the wild as well as in
captivity. Only through close personal contact can we really understand and appreciate these
We will conserve only what we love and we will love only what we understand. This relationship
can not be taught through books only; it has to be experienced in real life. We can never know
which child or exotic pet owner will be our next zoo director, conservationist or zoologist.
Training of exotic animals for educational school displays, zoo, fair and circus presentations also
provides animals with much needed enrichment provided exotic animals are properly cared for,
humanely trained, and not pushed beyond reasonable limits.
"Guardian" vs. Owner
REXANO supports the use of the term "owner" rather than "guardian" when referring to the
keeping of animals. We believe the term guardian restricts the rights of owners, veterinarians, and
government agencies to protect and care for animals, and possibly subject them to frivolous and
The term guardian does nothing to promote more responsible treatment of exotic animals. We
support educating the public about responsible exotic animal ownership.
“Species or Breed Specific” versus “Dangerous Animal” Control Legislation
REXANO supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to regulate the ownership of
exotic and wild animals. Animals are property and the owner is therefore responsible for the
actions of his or her animals, unless the animals were running loose as a result of a mischief,
sabotage or terrorist act by another person.
REXANO believes animal owners should be regulated and punished for the deeds, and not the
breeds or species of their animals. We support a fair process by which specific animals are
identified as "dangerous" based on stated, measurable actions; not preconceived or perceived fear
of the unknown.
REXANO supports appropriate enforceable penalties on irresponsible owners and establishment
of a clearly defined method for dealing with exotic and wild animals proven to be dangerous.
REXANO strongly opposes any legislation that determines an animal to be "dangerous" based on
breed or species rather than actions.
Homeowners' Insurance and Dangerous Animals
REXANO believes that insurance companies should determine coverage of an exotic animal-
owning household based on the existence of proper enclosures and perimeter fencing. If an exotic
animal has a proven track record of an accident free, well behaved, trained and properly
contained member of the household and the community, there is no reason to deny or cancel
Dangerous Animal Definition
Dangerous animal shall mean any animal, that according to animal services division records;
other animal control or law enforcement authorities; or as attested to by sworn affidavit:
(a) Inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property; or
(b) Killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property; or
(c) Has been previously found to be potentially dangerous, and the owner having received notice
of such, and the animal again aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or
(d) Animal shall not be deemed dangerous (or the owner liable) when the animal is protecting the
owner’s property or life against the uninvited intruders.
More on Dangerous Animals Issue
To provide communities with the most effective dangerous animal control possible, laws must not
be species or breed specific. Instead of holding all animal owners accountable for their behavior,
breed and species specific laws place restrictions only on the owners of certain breeds or species.
If specific breeds or species are banned, owners of these breeds and species intent on using their
animals for malicious purposes will simply change to another breed or species and continue to
jeopardize public safety, or go underground.
Strongly enforced animal control laws, such as leash, double gate and perimeter fence laws,
generic guidelines for dealing with dangerous animals and increased public education efforts to
promote responsible animal ownership are all positive ways to protect communities from
dangerous animals. Increasing public education efforts is significant because it helps address the
root cause of the problem --- irresponsible animal owners.
Banning a breed or species and declaring it inherently vicious punishes those responsible animal
owners who are the type of citizens that communities need to keep, not drive away.
Communities that have instituted such bans often find that the irresponsible owners and the
criminals who use animals for illegal purposes simply switch to another breed, species or get
Banning a breed, mix or species punishes those animals that are reliable community citizens,
therapy and assistance animals for handicapped owners, search and rescue animals, drug-sniffing
animals, police animals, etc., and drives them out of the community.
Breeds, hybrids and mixes (such as wolf content) are often difficult to identify. Passage of laws
that are only enforced when a complaint is filed causes two problems: they create disrespect for
the law if the authorities require compliance only upon receiving a complaint, and they provide
ammunition for neighborhood feuds by the ban.
The breed or species itself is not the problem - the lack of socialization and training, and owner
Accurate information on animal bites and the proportion of bites to breeds and species is difficult
to determine at best, because accurate statistics would require "comprehensive reports of all bites,
reliable breed and species identification, and detailed information about the demographics of the
entire animal population of the area in question. Such numbers are often unreliable since
compliance with local animal licensing or registration requirements is usually very low as many
owners see it as intrusion into their personal life and freedoms. Bite-rate analysis cannot be
accurate without a comprehensive census of animal population in the United States.
Breed or species specific legislation is a law or statute that equates the qualities of a dangerous
animal with a certain breed or species, and bans or restricts certain breeds or species based on
identity, not behavior of a specific animal. This type of “animal racism” legislation does not make
concessions for those members of the breed or species who are valuable assets to their
communities, such as therapy animals, assistance animals and valued animal family members.
Breed or species specific legislation identifies an animal as "dangerous" based upon its breed and
species alone and not based on any action or offense that the individual animal has ever