Atlantic mayors call for exotic animal task force

The mayors of Atlantic Canada are calling on the region's premiers to create a joint task force on exotic animals.

Killing of boys by African python in Campbellton sparks push for consistent rules about exotic pets

There is a move afoot to establish Canada-wide rules for keeping exotic animals as pets. 2:31

The mayors of Atlantic Canada are calling on the region's premiers to create a joint task force on exotic animials.

The Atlantic Mayors Congress passed a resolution calling for the task force at its meeting last week.

"It was an opportune time to do this, knowing full well that what has taken place in Campbellton and hopefully we are going to be able to put safeguards in place with our governments so that's never going to happen again," said Campbellton Mayor Bruce MacIntosh.

It was an opportune time to do this, knowing full well that what has taken place in Campbellton.- Bruce MacIntosh, Campbellton mayor

The move comes less than three months after Connor Barthe, 6, and his brother Noah, 4, were killed by an African rock python at a sleepover at a friend's apartment above a pet store in Campbellton, N.B. African rock pythons are not permitted in New Brunswick unless in an accredited zoo.

The snake that killed the Campbellton brothers was 4.3 metres long and weighed 45 kilograms. It was kept in an enclosure in an apartment above the Reptile Ocean pet store. Police believe it escaped through a ventilation system at the top of the enclosure and fell through the ceiling in the room where the boys were sleeping.

No charges have been laid. The Department of Natural Resources remains silent on any possible rule changes.

Canada currently has a patchwork of regulations regarding the care of exotic animals. The organization Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums is pushing for consistent rules to be adopted governing how and where exotic animals are housed.

In the early 1990s, an Ontario man was killed by his pet python. In 2007, a British Columbia woman was killed by a tiger in petting zoo.

Massima Bergamini, the executive director of CAZA, says the challenge is to convince law-makers those deaths weren't freak accidents.

"A lot was said about that facility in Campbellton not having been licenced," said Bergamini. "To us, it really is immaterial. If the owner had sought a licence, it probably would have been licenced under existing rules.

"We need to move from the current set of rules and embrace a much more stringent set of standards for zoological facilities," said Bergamini.

The resolution adopted by the Atlantic mayors also calls for the Atlantic Canadian premiers to take the recommendations of an exotic animal task force forward to a meeting off all Canadian premiers.

Begamini says his organization's next move in its push for consistent rules is to try and arrange a meeting with New Brunswick Premier David Alward.

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