The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo cares for many rare and endangered species that cannot be found anywhere else in Maryland or in the majority of the United States. But there are two bills now being considered by Maryland lawmakers that would make it illegal for us to exhibit or breed a significant group of the animals that currently call Catoctin their home.
Let me explain the proposed changes:
The two bills proposed to the Maryland General Assembly are SB0827 (a Senate Bill) and HB 1124 (a House Bill), each titled “Possession of Dangerous or Wild Animals.” Essentially the same amendments to the current law are proposed in both bills, saying that holding a federal, USDA granted and regulated Exhibitor’s License (called a Class “C” license) is not good enough to own and operate our facility.
It calls for severe restrictions on what we can house, breed, obtain or trade. If passed, the bills would freeze members our animal family in their tracks and slowly let them die out.
Effects on Breeding of Endangered Species:
We would be unable to contribute to the critical breeding efforts of endangered Snow Leopards, Amur Leopards, Jaguars, Tigers, Lions, Ochreata Macaques, Squirrel Monkeys, Patas Monkeys, Sun Bears, Foosa, Tamarins, or any other monkeys, lemurs or marmosets.
Certain species would be unable to ever be brought back into the state of Maryland again, including Wolves, Dingos, Crocodilians, or Venomous Snakes.
Effects on Education, Teaching and Training:
Such a ban would force us to STOP educating and spreading conservation to tens of thousands of school children with hands on learning tools – experiences that lead to lasting connections with animals.
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo would also have to STOP training the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on how to safely remove venomous snakes from populated areas and teach Emergency Medical Technicians more effective ways to respond to snake bites.
And we would no longer host zoological professionals from across the country for advanced training and demonstrations in safe husbandry and handling of venomous snakes.
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo Facts:
Is accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), a trade organization that has established professional standards for husbandry, animal care, and safety in order to ensure an appropriate, safe, and quality existence for animals in captive environments.
Educates 10,000 – 15,000 school children each year, both onsite and at schools and outdoor learning centers.
- Hosts hundreds of girl scouts, boy scouts, Make-A-Wish Foundation participants, YMCA clubs, and Boys and Girls Clubs members.
- Exhibits and contributes to the conservation of many endangered and rare species of the world, including but not limited to Sun Bears, Jaguar, Leopards, Foosa, Lemurs, Macaques, Patas Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Baboons, and Gibbon.
- Is one of three zoos in the U.S. consistently breeding Sun Bears, and the first zoo to record a mother-raised cub.
- Cares for a thriving group of Ochreata Macaques, the only troop outside of Indonesia.
- Initiated the acquisition of many lines of Lemurs from Madagascar in the late 1960’s, establishing a diverse genetic base for Lemurs in American zoos.
What to do:
The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo’s animals and staff are asking you to participate and contact your state representative. Please contact your state representative today, and let them know that if this Bill was to pass, it would not only end the responsible stewardship of the animal ambassadors at Catoctin, but would damage the region’s opportunities to experience exotic animals.
Share with them the positive experiences that you have had with us, the visits that you have had since you were a small child or the memories that you have made that will last you a lifetime. Express your opposition to the bills in your own words, or incorporate any of the information provided in this letter.
Step 2: Click on the Contact link to start an email to your lawmaker. If you want to see a sample format, look here.
Step 3: Express your opposition to the bills. For Senators, reference SB0827 (a Senate Bill) and for Delegates, reference HB 1124 (a House Bill).
The Catoctin Wildlife and Preserve and Zoo needs be able to continue to display, reproduce, and grow the many rare and endangered species we know and love, to contribute to the conservation efforts of zoological professionals across the country, and to educate our region’s school children and families.
From all of us here, thank you for your continued support.
General Curator, Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo