Officials: Exotic pets are dangerous, illegal

- The Holtsville Ecology Center on Long Island is home to bears and peacocks and now a wolf. The newest resident is a 6.5-year-old female Mackenzie wolf named Nakita. She is the latest in a growing list of illegal animals found on Long Island.

"They're wild animals, they're unpredictable," Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said. "You never know what they're going to do."

He said Nakita's owner allegedly bought her from an out-of-state breeder as a pup and tried raising her as a dog. When she started getting aggressive, he turned her in.

Officials said that is an important lesson for people who may think exotic animals can be pets.

"These animals are by nature wild animals," Lt. Tom Gadomski of the Environmental Conservation Department of said. "Yeah, they might be friendly for a while but at some point in time they're going to turn on you."

The law is simple. Abandon an illegal animal and you can face penalties and possibly jail time. But surrender it to either the DEC or SPCA and you won't be charged.

"We will make arrangements to have the animal safely removed from your home," Gross said. "Do the right thing – do not dump them, do not abandon them."

The center also has an abandoned alligator snapping turtle that could've bitten off someone's foot.

The Holtsville Ecology Center is holding an amnesty day on September 30 where owners of illegal animals can turn them in, no questions asked.

Officials said that nationwide illegal exotic animals are to blame for the deaths of about 75 people each year.

While Nakita may look cute, don't get too close.

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