Letter to the Editor

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Truth about exotic animals

By The Staff

To the editor:

In the past week or 10 days, I have read three or four similar accounts of this situation. Without exception, each report contained only half truths, gossip and surprisingly inaccurate statements by Levy County elected officials. Although state laws and Captive Exotic Animal statistics are readily available on the Internet, no one seems inclined to put any effort into accessing them.

Anything I say can be verified and I will try to give site addresses for anyone interested in facts.

Due to health and financial reverses, a Lake County Exotic Animal Educational Center was ordered b the FWC to remove all animals in its care within 30 days. Dr. Billar and Brian Davis, husband and wife, stepped up and are in the process of providing a safe secure final home for five of these rare endangered animals. Billar/Davis immediately applied to the controlling state agency, FWC, for necessary permits and caging requirements. Work began immediately and continues to present. All animals have been and continue to be securely padlocked in steel cages and enclosures. The big cats are additionally fenced in by a 12-foot high chain link fence.

Commissioner Rooks stated concern for first responders finding themselves “in the presence” of big cats is puzzling. She appears to believe the animals roam the property. Absolutely untrue, and sad to say, not the first innuendo to be thrown out for public consumption. One hopes her statements are merely ignorance of facts and not deliberately inflammatory.

Attention all emergency personnel! First responders, need not fear come to an emergency call at the Billar/Davis sanctuary site. All animals are securely padlocked inside FWC-approved cages at all times. It’s more likely emergency personnel will be bitten by someone’s family dog while gaining entrance to a residence than attacked by the animals in the sanctuary. Responsible adults are constantly on the premises, either owners or volunteers, or both.

As safety is the primary concern, the facility has been under the watchful scrutiny of FWC. As you know, FWC has complete control and the full authority to immediately close any facility not in strict compliance with state laws. The care in construction and adherence to state law ensures closure for unsafe practices will never be necessary at this site.

Grace Wegman

Fruitland Park