Can exotic animals be kept as pets? - WNEM TV 5

I-Team Report:

Can exotic animals be kept as pets?

Posted: Updated:
Source: Riley Gibbs Source: Riley Gibbs
SWARTZ CREEK, MI (WNEM) -

After an African caracal got loose in the Swartz Creek area, forcing a local elementary school to lock its doors and keep kids inside, many viewers are asking questions.

The cat, named Ameera, caused quite the stir Thursday when she ran away from home. Thankfully, she was found safe – but her adventure has a lot of people in Mid-Michigan wondering if such an exotic animal is meant to be kept indoors.

Ameera's owner claimed she's not dangerous and she's completely legal to own.

The TV5 I-Team did some digging through Michigan laws and things got a little blurry.

A representative for the Michigan Department of Agriculture pointed TV5 to the Large Carnivore Act. The law makes it illegal for anyone in Michigan to own or breed large cats but that only applies to lions, leopards, jaguars, tigers, cougars, panthers, and cheetahs.

There is no mention of caracals like Ameera or other exotic pets.

The only other state regulation said if you bring an exotic pet into the state, you must have the proper documentation from a licensed vet.

The state said everything else is left up to local governments.

For example, in Flint Township you can't own animals like exotic cats, primates, raccoons, or other zoo-like creatures.

In Thomas Township, they allow them if you keep the animal indoors, and it is under 100 pounds.

However, with no uniform laws throughout the state the debate will continue to rage on.

The Saginaw County Animal Control Director said some states have so-called "clean lists,” which means they spell out in detail what animals can and cannot be kept as pets.

Michigan doesn't have a sweeping list like that, so it’s really up to where you live. 

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