JEFFERSON CITY - Primate owners grumbled Monday that proposed state regulations for apes simply ape existing federal requirements.
A bill that would regulate both big cats and nonhuman primates stirred up controversy in the House Local Government committee. The bill would require owners to obtain a state permit and lower the required insurance from $250,000 to $50,000.
Despite the lower cost, exotic animal owners present at the hearing opposed the bill due to its repetitive nature.
The bill would require owners to obtain a state permit in addition to permits already required by federal and local government.
Vickie Harvey, representing America's Animal Owners and a primate owner herself, brought in paperwork required by the USDA that documents the apes' daily care and a log of health issues, ages and food.
The USDA's requirements are "really very extensive, and much more...extensive than this bill," Harvey said.
Harvey suggested that private owners should only complete the required registration with the USDA rather than burdening the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Primate owner Connie Casey said there have been no deaths caused by primates in Missouri, unlike those caused by other animals such as horses, cattle and even jellyfish in some states.
Representatives from zoos across Missouri voiced their support for the bill.
"I would hope Missouri doesn't wait for a situation like Ohio, where the exotic bill came around after those 48 lions and tigers came out," said Dr. Eric Miller, Senior Vice President of the St. Louis Zoo. "It will better ensure the safety of the public."
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, said the bill's intent is not to take away pets or regulate owners out of business.