COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A new bill going through the State House would ban the ownerships, trading, or breeding of dozens of exotic animals from bears and lions to boa constrictors.
Since introducing the Dangerous Wild Animal Act into the legislature last week, small business owners and exotic animal lovers have united to let their representatives know any animal -- not just the exotic species they own -- can be dangerous.
However, the support to keep these animals available has been overwhelming.
"It is probably the second or third most opposed bill I've seen since I've been here," said Rep. Kirkman Finlay. "Various people feel their livelihood will be negatively impacted."
"I think people would maybe -- I don't want to say give up -- but move onto something else. And I don't think that's very fair to the animals," said Tom Campbell, owner of Wild Reptile Adventure.
Many believe interacting with and owning these animals could help save them from extinction.
"You think the California condor would be around if it wasn't for private collection and propagation of that bird species," said Campbell.
Representatives from the Humane Society, the agency that helped craft the bill, tell us public safety and proper care of animals are the driving factors behind the bill. Others say exotic and "dangerous" animals simply get more bad publicity than good.
"There are no bad animals, just bad people, unfortunately," said Campbell.
Those directly involved in the bill say they're unsure whether this bill will be debated. It may be a matter for next year's session.