Over the last five years, the New York City Health Department gave out 290 summonses to New Yorkers for owning exotic animals without the permits that would allow them to live within city limits, DNAinfo reports. The most unusual pets on record were a zebra acquired by a Staten Island man for his “start-up petting zoo,” a four-foot python that a Columbia University superintendent would bring to campus wrapped around his arm, and “a sloth, a king snake, a lemur, a marmocet, a hedgehog and a Brazilian aardvark” that billionaire hedge-funder Philip Falcone kept in his $50 million Upper East Side home. (Falcone also got in trouble for putting two miniature kangaroos in a Christmas show at a Brighton Beach theater.)
One Staten Island pet-store owner who got busted for displaying a green iguana (he claims that he received the banned reptile as part of a shipping mixup) told DNAinfo that people often come in “looking for rats” to feed to their exotic animals. We suggest that the city work out a deal that allows people to keep their weird, rat-eating pets as long as they agree to capture their meals off the streets themselves.