As I’m sure we are all well aware of now, two children lost their lives while at a sleepover at Reptile Ocean Inc. located in Campbellton, NB. Allegedly, an African Rock Python (Python sebae) escaped its enclosure and then asphyxiated the boys as they slept. As with all incidents which involve reptiles and human deaths there are a number of people whom choose to propagate speculation about how this happened. It seems obvious to us, that until the investigation is completed, we reptile keepers should not in any way attempt to understand what might have happened. For as anyone who’s kept reptiles should tell you; reptiles don’t read the books we write about them. Therefore, they can and often do behave in ways we don’t expect.Illegal Reptiles
There have recently been statements made that Reptile Ocean Inc. and its owner Jean-Claude Savoie had kept and were keeping reptiles which were/are documented as being illegal in the province of New Brunswick. This begs the question,
“Which reptile species are illegal in New Brunswick and Canada as a whole?”
Before moving on to answer that question we feel it necessary to make something clear. According to my knowledge and what’s been reported to me by various sources close to Jean-Claude and Jean-Claude himself, the Python while indeed illegal to own by most reptile keepers was given to Reptile Ocean Inc. by a government agency. Whether this was a reptile rescue or a seizure on an ill-equipped keeper who was housing the python is unknown to me at this point. According to the Times _ Transcript reporter Shawn Berry search warrants were issued in order to determine if Jean-Claude was keeping exotic wildlife without the proper permits.
Looking from the outside in and based solely in journalistic resources which are trusted, it would seem that the permitting and licensing of Reptile Ocean Inc. and therefore Jean-Claude has in fact changed over the years since it first opened. What I’m referring to is the fact that at one time, it would appear that Reptile Ocean Inc. a ‘zoological facility’. This allowed the facility to be in possession of what otherwise would be considered illegal animals. These illegal animals, were as I said above either a rescue or a seizure. Rather than euthanize the animals they were in fact relinquished to Jean-Claude whom had the facility and proper experience in the judgment of the government agency turning over the animals.
Now then, for whatever reason, when the licensing of Reptile Ocean Inc. changed from a zoological facility to a pet store it would seem to me that the issuing agency would’ve noticed said changes and made appropriate contact with Reptile Ocean Inc. in order to retrieve any and all animals which were not covered by the current licensing. Should the onus of this fallen to Jean-Claude? Some say yes others say no. Again we come right back to the fact(s) of what is in fact allowed to be kept by reptile keepers in the province of New Brunswick. As a matter of fact, are there different rules and legislation for the private keeper versus the zoological facility? What/who determines a zoological facility, accredited zoo, or private keeper?
This in fact is what I term as the “bugfuck contingency” a term completely pilfered from Chuck Wendig of Terrible Minds he was referring to writing and editing he’s a brilliant author. I, in this case anyway, am speaking of the seeming ineptitude of the government to keep accurate records and then in an act of desperation lay ‘blame’ at the feet of the allegedly guilty party. Yet another quote comes to mind, this one from my criminal justice professor (yes I did attend college stop laughing)
“Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.”
Again the arguments can and do go both ways. Before moving on, let’s take a look at the term ‘ignorance’ for it one which is often misused even by me at times. Merriam-Webster online defines it thus
“lack of knowledge, awareness, or education.”
Was Jean-Claude aware of the legislative parameters which dictated that when the business operation changed from a zoological facility to a retail pet store that he was no longer ‘allowed’ to keep the animals that were released to him by the government agency? This is completely plausible, however, could he not also operate under the thought that because a government agency relinquished custody of the ‘illegal’ animals to him that he was now charged with their care regardless of changing his business type? This is often referred to as grandfathering or the grandfather clause. The Grandfather Clause is defined by Merriam-Webster.com as
“a clause creating an exemption based on circumstances previously existing”
In plain English, the way I understand it and I’m NOT a legal representative of any means. I’m basing this on what I have been informed by other respected resources in the industry whom have dealt with the grandfather clause. If you already owned the animals when the new law stating that those animals cannot be kept any longer then you are exempted from the new legislation. We can only sit and watch now as the investigation continues. What we can offer you dear reader, is easy
access to the now infamous ‘Allowed List’ of exotic animals which can be kept by private keepers in New Brunswick.
Thank you to our Content Director Rebecca Billard for the concept of this piece.