MIAMI (CBS4) – People who have exotic pets they can no longer handle will have a chance to do what is best for the animals during Nonnative Pet Amnesty Day March 12.

The Pet Amnesty Day, held at Zoo Miami with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), is designed to keep exotic animals from being released into the Everglades where they typically wreak havoc on native species.

Pet owners can bring their animals to the event that runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. March 12 at Zoo Miami at 12400 S.W. 152nd St. No questions of owners will be asked.

Last year’s event saw 70 exotic pets surrendered that included eight Burmese pythons, two parrots, one monkey and 16 red-eared sliders, which are turtles that are native to the United States, but not Florida.

“The most common reason exotic pets end up in Florida’s wilderness is because their owners release them there,” said Jenny Tinnell, a nonnative biologist with the FWC. “Often, pet owners don’t understand the difference between native and nonnative species, or they don’t realize the effects releasing a nonnative species can have.”

Pets brought in to Zoo Miami will be adopted out free after first being examined by a veterinarian, Tinnell said. Adoptive owners must show knowledge of the animal’s cage and dietary requirements.

Those interested in adopting an exotic animal who are willing to meet FWC requirements can fill out applications at .

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )


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