Gulfarium to Host Exotic Pet Amnesty Day - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Gulfarium to Host Exotic Pet Amnesty Day

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Are you an experienced pet owner interested in adopting an exotic species?

Do you know how to care for pets such as a boa constrictor, leopard gecko, African spurred tortoise, African grey parrot or sugar glider?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park are offering qualified adopters the chance to take home an exotic pet turned in by those who no longer can keep them.

Those opportunities will come at Exotic Pet Amnesty Day on October 5th at the Gulfarium on Okaloosa Island.

Florida is the one state in the continental United States regularly holding Exotic Pet Amnesty Days to encourage owners to turn in their exotic pets without cost or penalty and discourage the release of nonnative species into the wild. This is the first time that an event of this type will be held in the Florida panhandle area.

"We are looking for adopters with the knowledge and expertise to care for exotic pets," said Jenny Novak, who coordinates the FWC's Exotic Pet Amnesty program. "We expect quite a few nonnative animals to be turned over at the Exotic Pet Amnesty Day in Fort Walton Beach, so we want to make sure we have safe homes for them."

Pet adopters must be pre-qualified to receive surrendered animals. Anyone interested in adopting exotic pets can download the application forms at myfwc.com/nonnatives. Adopters must have knowledge of natural history and safe caging requirements for the animals they are interested in adopting. There is no fee for becoming an adopter.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park will be Saturday, October 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will be free and open to the public. Adoption applications must be received by October 3 to be processed in time for this event.

"Releasing exotic pets is a major pathway by which exotic species find their way into native habitats," says Graham Northup, Gulfarium's reptile specialist. "Often, pet owners don't understand the difference between native and nonnative species, or they don't realize the possible effects of releasing a nonnative species. Releasing exotic species is also illegal in Florida. This event offers a legal, ethical option for pet owners who can no longer take care of their pets or no longer wish to keep them."

A veterinarian will examine each animal, and the healthy animals will be placed with qualified adopters.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day is also a family event. This is a chance for people to not only see exotic animals, but get up close and even touch them. Experts also will be on hand to talk about proper care of exotic pets.