UPDATE: During the Richmond City Council Meeting on Monday, May 22, another subsection was added to the amendment allowing owners of venomous or poisonous reptiles or amphibians to keep their pets if certain prerequisites are met. More details can be found here.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond City Council will soon vote on a proposal that would change the law regarding exotic and wild animals.

The proposed law would come as an amendment to the Code of the City of Richmond‘s laws regarding wild animals.

Should the amendment be approved, it would be illegal for a person to own, breed, purchase, sell, keep, maintain or possess any exotic or wild animal in the city. A violation of the law would be considered a class 3 misdemeanor.

Exotic animals included under the ordinance include:

  • Monkeys
  • Raccoons
  • Opossums
  • Skunks
  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Squirrels
  • Foxes
  • Leopards
  • Panthers
  • Tigers
  • Lions
  • Lynxes
  • Caracals
  • Bobcats
  • Bears
  • Alligators
  • Crocodiles
  • Caimans
  • Gavials

Other animals considered “exotic” include any warm-blooded animal which can usually be found in the wild, venomous or poisonous reptiles or amphibians and animals of the crocodilian family.

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.

“Any person who keeps an exotic or wild animal in contravention of this section may dispose of the animal by removing the animal permanently from the city of Richmond, by giving or selling the animal to a zoological park, or by releasing the animal to the Department, which shall release the animal to the wild, to a zoological park, or other entity approved for the care and protection of the particular species and that is properly licensed by the federal government or the state government.”

Exceptions will be made for certain licensed venues, such as zoos, circuses, wildlife rehabilitators, etc. For more information on the ordinance, visit the City of Richmond’s legislative website.