Royal Oak could ban owning exotic pets after caracal escapes last year

Posted at 5:40 AM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 13:56:40-04

(WXYZ) — The Royal Oak City Commission could eventually vote to ban people from having exotic animals as pets.

Tension has been brewing around the issue since October when a resident's African caracal cat first escaped its enclosure, and it happened again in December.

When the African caracal got out in October, people were scared because at the end of the day, it's a wild animal, and experts say its behavior is really unpredictable.

Others think it could be an overreach and rob people of having exotic pets that aren't dangerous.

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The state defines an exotic animal as any animal not native to the United States and not typically kept as a pet.

In Michigan, it's illegal to have lions, tigers, bears, wolf dogs, jaguars and leopards.

Caracal cats and alligators are among a few other types of animals not addressed in the state law.

This posed a gray area for the City of Royal Oak, when the woman's caracal escaped and got loose in a residential neighborhood.

In response, the city commission passed a moratorium prohibiting non-domestic animals in Royal Oak, which expires on May 8, 2022. They say they expect to extend the moratorium for 3 more months at tonight's meeting.

According to the commission, they are proposing a new ordinance that would permanently prohibit keeping exotic pets in residential neighborhoods.

That includes, but is not limited to: African cats, poisonous or venomous animals, and larger animals such as alligators, crocodiles and primates.

Those who already were legally licensed to have the animals prior to the ordinance passing would be exempt.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday. There is also talk of addressing the Main Art Theatre, which is set to be torn down to make room for new development. It is not currently listed on the agenda.