LDWF to Remove Illegal Nutria Pet From Owners, Plans to Turn It Over to Baton Rouge Zoo

Published 7:02 am Friday, March 17, 2023

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A family’s pet nutria is set to be removed from the home of a New Orleans couple and moved to the Baton Rouge Zoo to be part of an educational exhibit, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced Thursday.

It is illegal to have a wild animal as a pet, especially a nutria.

LDWF discovered the existence of the pet nutria after stories about the animal appeared this week in New Orleans area media. Once the status was made public, the department recommended its removal. The department also started communications with the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission which operates the Baton Rouge Zoo, to find a means of saving the animal.

BREC and Zoo officials agreed Thursday to accept the animal.

After those arrangements were completed, LDWF agents contacted the owners and told them that the animal will be removed and that arrangements have been made with the BR Zoo. In most cases, the animal would be placed back into the wild. However, LDWF biologists and Zoo officials said that because the animal has been habituated to humans, it would not be able to survive in the wild.

It is against the law in Louisiana to possess injured or orphaned mammals without an LDWF Rehabilitation permit, even if there is a plan to release them. It is illegal to possess wildlife as a pet or for the pet trade. There is no permit for this activity, and no permit will be issued for it.

In a statement issued Thursday, Zoo officials said it “plans to take in the nutria into our animal family…The nutria will join our Ambassador Animal Program.”

“The Zoo’s professional staff will care for the nutria as they would all other animals within their skilled care and looks forward to bringing a new member into the zoo animal family.”

LDWF appreciates the owner’s affection for the animal and their understanding of the rules regarding its removal. LDWF discourages the public from housing wild animals as pets.

For more information about nuisance wildlife or the rehabilitation of injured or orphaned wildlife visit: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/injured-orphaned-wildlife.