Florida zoos could be allowed to breed herds of giraffes, rhinos and elephants on state land
Florida's state-owned lands already are coping with pythons, monkeys and walking catfish. So how about adding some rhinos, a few giraffes, maybe even some elephants?
A pair of bills being pushed through the Legislature by the Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums would allow the association's 16 members — including Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa — to lease state-owned land for "conducting enhanced research" on "selected populations of ungulate and avian species."
An ungulate is an animal with hooves, notes a House committee analysis of CS/HB 1117, listing as examples "zebras, donkeys, cattle/bison, rhinoceroses, camels, hippos, tapirs, goats, pigs, sheep, giraffes, okapis, moose, elk, deer, antelopes, and gazelles."
"We're not going to put primates out there and we're not going to put cats out there," said Larry Killmar, who is both president of the association and vice president of the Lowry Park Zoo. "We know those are hot-button species. But we could put antelopes, rhinos, giraffes out there — even elephants, if necessary."