In April of 2015, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hosted an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day in Melbourne at the Wickham Park Pavilion. This was the second year and the event was considered a rousing success. Although only 34 animals were surrendered in last year’s event, that number was met in the first hour of this year’s event.
In this year’s event, they received multiple tortoises, snakes, a macaw and even a macac – a type of monkey. As per the policy, there are no questions asked and exotic pet owners can surrender the pet without fear of reprisals. However, some owners were happy to discuss their reasons. They included heavy monetary costs, too much time caring for the animal and even a feeling of being overwhelmed at having to take care of an animal without really understanding what is involved.
Not only were exotic pets surrendered, approved potential adoptees of exotic pets showed up in order to take home some of the surrendered animals. In fact, the FWC makes every attempt to adopt out animals the same day as they are surrendered by licensing potential adoptees ahead of time. In the rare event that a same day adoption is not feasible, the animal is temporarily held until an approved adoptee in the area can be contacted.
In addition, multiple displays are set up so that anyone can visit the event and learn more about these non-native species. Several types of animals are on display and volunteers are on hand to discuss these animals with attendees, making this an excellent educational opportunity.
The first exotic pet amnesty day was held in the year 2006 in an effort to reduce non-native species being introduced into the Florida wild. At that time, six animals were surrendered. In 2014, over 2000 animals were surrendered. Of course, they are trying to far surpass that number this year.
If you missed the event but have an exotic pet you would like to surrender, you can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-483-4681.
If you’re interested in becoming an approved adoptee, you will need to submit the proper forms that can be found here. This must be done prior to the adoption days as no adoptees are approved on the day of the event. If the species requires a permit by Florida law, then you will need the permit in hand before being able to adopt that species.