CARSON CITY — A bill to outlaw the private ownership of chimpanzees, lions, bears and other potentially dangerous animals and reptiles was introduced as promised Wednesday by Sen. Michael Roberson.
Roberson, the Republican minority leader from Las Vegas, introduced Senate Bill 245 in the wake of two escapes last year of a chimp named CJ from an enclosure in northwest Las Vegas. Buddy, her mate, was killed by police when he “aggressively approached” onlookers during the first escape.
No people were hurt in the escapes, but police removed CJ from her owners after the second escape.
The chimps are owned by Timmi DeRosa and Nikki Grusenmeyers. DeRosa is a longtime exotic animal owner and trainer, who alleged that an animal- rights activist let her chimp loose in the second escape.
After the second escape, Roberson decided to draw up a bill to prohibit ownership of potentially dangerous animals. He said he was worried about a child being injured or killed and questioned why anyone would keep a dangerous animal.
“We are not telling people they cannot have animals they already have, but joining 43 other states who have these regulations,” Roberson said.
“This is a safety issue, No. 1, and also an (instrument) on how exotic animals should be treated. You shouldn’t have these animals locked up in a basement of a home. It is cruel to the animals and very unsafe to the people who live in the neighborhood.”
His bill identifies many animals and reptiles as dangerous and unlawful to possess, including alligators, raccoons, hyenas, poisonous snakes, bears, gray wolves, cheetahs, lions, tigers and leopards.
Under a “grandfather” provision, the bill would allow current owners of dangerous animals, as of July 1, to keep those animals.
But they would not be allowed to acquire additional dangerous animals after that date, and new pet buyers could not acquire these animals on or after that date.
Possession, sale or importation of such animals would be a misdemeanor crime, usually punished by probation and a fine.
Everyone will have a chance to make their views known in a yet-unscheduled Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing.
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