Wildlife advocates bust illegal exotic animal photoshoots on Coney Island

As you’re walking along the boardwalk in Coney Island, you might see someone carrying a python, alligator or any other wild animals, it might seem like a cool idea to pay to have your picture taken with them, but animal advocates are reminding us wild animals are illegal in New York City and the treatment of the animals is considered inhumane and cruel.  

Last Friday, a wallaby was confiscated from a man who was walking along the boardwalk with the adorable marsupial. Now, it is in the care of a wildlife rescue center in Suffolk County, Long Island.

"It should have a very large outdoor enclosure at the very least.  It's supposed to be in the wild," said Lori Ketchum, Director of the Save The Animal Rescue Foundation.

The man who owned the wild animal had been getting money from people on the Coney Island boardwalk who wanted pictures with it until he got busted by police.

"This is illegal exploitation of these animals," said John Di Leonardo, Executive Director of Humane Long Island. "They don't belong in a cramped bag in Coney Island.  They belong in Australia.  Some of these animals belong in South America."  

Di Leonardo’s organization patrols tourist areas and reports illegal activity to the police. A member of his group spotted the man with the wallaby.    

Recently, the NYPD also seized a python and a caiman lizard. 

"The issue for the businesses is the safety of their customers," said Daniel Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Coney Island.  "These animals are not domesticated pets.  They are wild animals."

Wild exotic animals are illegal in the city but are not illegal in the rest of the state. 

"The New York State Legislature needs to ban both the exhibition and the pet ownership of all exotic animals," Di Leonardo said.