RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — For the second time in six years, Richmond City Council is considering a ban on owning exotic animals.
A newly proposed amendment to the Code of the City of Richmond‘s laws would make it illegal for someone to own, breed, purchase or sell any exotic or wild animal within City limits. If the ordinance passes, any violation would be considered a class 3 misdemeanor.
City Council members ultimately voted to make changes to the proposed ordinance. These changes will allow owners of venomous or poisonous reptiles or amphibians to keep their pets if certain requirements are met.
However, the list of potentially banned animals still includes monkeys, raccoons, opossums, skunks, wolves, coyotes, squirrels, foxes, bears, seven species of wild cats and four members of the Crocodilia order.
Certain animals are not considered exotic as long as they are domestically bred — such as ferrets, rabbits, chinchillas, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, rats, imported birds, non-venomous reptiles, amphibians and fish.
When the City last considered an exotic pet ban, the National Humane Education Society urged residents to support more restrictions. The organization said buying exotic pets can harm individual animals as well as power illegal wildlife trafficking.
But this stance is something that Tripp Ford disagrees with.
“I’m just a regular dude. This happens to be my pet, and I don’t think I should be penalized for that,” Ford said while showing off his pet Savannah Monitor Lizard, Viserion. “I’ve always been obsessed with exotic animals, reptiles, snakes, lizards.”
Ford and his pet lizard will not personally be impacted by the potential amendment. He lives in Chester, and the Savannah Monitor Lizard is a non-venomous species, meaning domestically bred lizards like Viserion would be allowed if the amendment was approved.
Still, Ford feels strongly that the potential ban in Richmond shouldn’t be put in place.
“It’s a very small but passionate community,” Ford said. “We love our animals. And I don’t see why, you know, they would try to ban that.”
Exceptions to the ordinance will be made for certain licensed venues, such as zoos, circuses and wildlife rehabilitators.
The amendment will be discussed again at the June 12 City Council meeting.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the City’s current laws involving exotic pets.