Talia Mulcrone and Simon Miladinovic pet Duke the reindeer during the 2017 Holiday Ice Festival. The city’s new guidelines prohibit the displaying or performances of wild or exotic animals, so this will not be allowed anymore in Ferndale.

Talia Mulcrone and Simon Miladinovic pet Duke the reindeer during the 2017 Holiday Ice Festival. The city’s new guidelines prohibit the displaying or performances of wild or exotic animals, so this will not be allowed anymore in Ferndale.

File photo by Erin Sanchez


Ferndale bans exotic animal displays or performances

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 27, 2018

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FERNDALE — After Ferndale received a request from an event to hold pig racing, the city made moves to ban that and other forms of showcasing exotic animals in town.

At its Dec. 17 meeting, the City Council approved an ordinance amendment that regulates and prohibits the displaying or performances of wild or exotic animals within Ferndale.

According to city documents, wild or exotic animals means any animal that is “not a domestic animal and includes any or all of the following taxa, or similar orders and families whether bred in the wild or in captivity, and any hybrid with domestic animals.” This includes chimpanzees, monkeys, bears, elephants, kangaroos, deer, skunks, sloths, otters, seals, snakes and reptiles of venomous nature or over 4 feet in length, pigs and more. Animals such as domesticated cats and dogs are exempt.

Resident Julia Music, who also runs Ferndale Pride, said she agrees with the majority of the amendment, but was concerned that it didn’t specify adoption event or educational events so that they can continue.

“I want to make sure that adoption continues,” she said. “Sometimes Fido Does Ferndale does adoption, but definitely Ferndale Pride does adoption, and sometimes those are requested for exotic animals. Generally, they’re not. They’re generally for dogs, sometimes cats, but sometimes some exotic birds come into play too. I would hope that you guys might change that to word it to continue with adoption.”

City Attorney Dan Christ said the subject really is wild or exotic animals, and not just those animals, but the issues of displays or performances involving those particular animals.

“It certainly exempts in this draft any type of domesticated animal from the subject of this regulation, and it would provide that the wild or exotic animals that are defined are not allowed to be within the city in a display or performance,” he said. “The issue raised relative to an adoption of one of the wild animals really wasn’t contemplated. It doesn’t appear that, if they were just brought in, I don’t believe it would fit under the defined term of display or performance as drafted in the text.”

Christ said the list of animals could be amended at any time to add other categories of wild animals.

The ordinance text defines “display” as “any exhibit of live animals open to the public except an exhibit that is part of an educational activity.” “Performance” is defined as “public showing, presentation, exposition, fair, act, circus, ride, trade show, petting zoo, carnival, parade, race, exhibition, or similar undertaking in which live animals are required to perform tricks, fight, compete or act as participants for the entertainment or amusement, or benefit of an audience.”

The text also defines what is a domestic animal, which includes dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, ponies, sheep, goats, poultry, fowl or cattle.

Music said people also were worried this meant that events couldn’t have pony or horse rides, but Christ clarified they are included in the definition of a domestic animal, so it would not be characterized as a wild or exotic animal.

“There was a lot of misconception on the internet, and I wanted to make sure it was clarified because I obviously don’t want to see chimpanzees brought in for people’s entertainment, but I want to make sure that my son can go to an educational event and learn about snakes and reptiles and things like that as well,” Music said.

Mayor Dave Coulter wanted to clarify that people still could have pigs as a pet, but you “just can’t race them at an event.” He also said pig racing wasn’t the only request the city got that involved exotic animals. Coulter told the Woodward Talk in a text that other instances were involving reindeer and having an elephant in a park.

“Technically, although they have fortunately each backed off of that when we approached them and told them that’s really not an appropriate part of the values of this community, I’m not sure they had to,” he said. “We don’t have anything on our books that says you can’t do that, and so this just sort of firms that up so that we can now go, and so event promoters in advance will know that those sort of activities are not appropriate in Ferndale.”

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