The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park are holding an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day event on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the park in Fort Walton Beach. People can surrender their exotic pets at the event without penalty or cost, whether they are being kept legally or illegally. The Exotic Pet Amnesty program helps to reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild.
This free event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, 1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach. Admission to the park is not included and is not required to attend the event.
Live animals will be on display, and experts from the FWC, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park and other organizations will be onsite with information about caring for exotic pets, responsible pet ownership and potential ecological impacts of invasive species in Florida.
Surrendered exotic pets will be accepted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and given a health exam by a veterinarian before being made available for adoption that same day to pre-registered, experienced individuals capable of caring for them. Animals accepted for surrender include nonnative species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates. Domestic animals, such as cats, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits, will not be accepted.
Animals will be made available for adoption after 2 p.m. Exotic pet adopters need to be experienced and must have already applied and been approved by the FWC. Potential adopters should bring their acceptance letters and any necessary permits with them. Becoming an adopter is free, but you are required to register a minimum of four days prior to the event to adopt an animal. Adopter applications can be found at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.
Exotic Pet Amnesty events are held around the state throughout the year. For additional information, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives or call the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681). Exotic pet owners who cannot attend this event may call for assistance in finding a new home for their animal year-round.