New York State is considering a bill that, if passed, will make it illegal to buy, sell or keep certain animals as pets.

It was presented April 3. The current law describes all animals as either wild or domesticated. The new law would divide the wild animal category in two. One group would be wild animals indigenous to North America. The other group would be wild animals indigenous to continents that are not North America.

Those not from North America will be called “exotics.” And the new rules will apply to exotics. They might even have to go back to where they came from.

“Wild and exotic animals require specific conditions and environments to survive,” said State Senator Monica Martinez, who sponsored bill S6211B. “The habitats in which these animals live in the wild are far from conditions that exist in New York.”

I called out to my pets. Told them to get in line outside the TV room. I don’t want to be caught flatfooted if this bill passes.

First, I called in Charlie the Crocodile who lives in our master bathroom bathtub, along with his mate Priscilla.

“You guys might have to leave,” I said. “Really sorry. It’s been fun.”

“Outrageous,” Charlie said. “What if we say we are alligators from Florida?”

“Won’t cut it,” I said. “The state has experts. They’ll find you out.”

My two sloths, Eli and Ilie, who hang upside down from a limb on the oak tree in the backyard, came next.

“You woke us up for this?” Eli said, bleary-eyed.

“I’m just trying to do the right thing,” I said.

“Call us back when this is actually happening,” Eli said grumpily. And he and Ilie waddled back out into the yard.

Kathy and Ken, the two kangaroos who live in the basement, hopped in next.

“I’m really going to miss you guys,” I said.

Two joeys peered out from Kathy’s pouch.

“What about Billie and Jillie?” Kathy asked. “They were born here. That should make them citizens.”

“It’s worth a try,” I said.

“Anybody comes near,” Ken said, holding up his boxing gloves, “I’m gonna punch em in the nose.”

“Let’s not get carried away,” I said. “Australia is nice.”

Gertrude, the pygmy goat, trotted in from her nest in the garbage can underneath the kitchen sink. When I told her she might have to go back to Uruguay, she burst into tears. She also started snorting.

“Blow your nose,” I said. “I can’t break the law. I’m just telling you what might have to happen.”

I sent her back to the kitchen.

My two sets of anacondas, one set yellow, the other green, slithered in from their home at the bottom of the swimming pool.

“Heckle and Jeckle,” I said, addressing the yellow ones. “We might have to send you back to Ecuador. “And you guys, Donald and Daisy, Borneo.”

“What if you painted us blue?” Heckle asked. “We’d all be happy blue. Yes?” Donald and Daisy and Jeckle wagged their forked tongues in agreement.

“Okay,” I said. “But if they ban blue, I’ll have to go along with it.”

“Ick.” said Daisy.

“And on your way out, please towel off the wet floor,” I said. They stopped, looked at me funny, and then slithered out without doing so.

I called in the capuchin monkeys, Zeke and Zara, who live in our bedroom and of course they just climbed all over me and snuggled up as they do in the evening.

Zeke spoke. “Wazzup?” he asked.

“Where you guys from?” I asked.

“I dunno. Cappuchine? Look it up.”

“I tried,” I said. “I don’t see it anywhere on the map. It must be a place, though.”

“It’s a state,” Zara said.

“No it’s not,” I said. “I know all the states. Look, if this new bill passes, we’ll have to find out where it is and send you there.”

“I’m pretty sure its an abbreviation for a state,” Zara concluded. She chattered with Zeke for awhile.

“According to the law,” Zeke said, “it’s okay if we’re just passing through New York. They allow you 10 days to do that.

“Well, just stand by,” I said. “You know I don’t want to do this.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

With that, they climbed down off me, shrugged and strode off. At the door, Zeke turned. “We’ll bite them,” he said, defiantly.

Pipi and Papi, the South African penguins who live in our food freezer, shuffled in. I told them what was going on.

“Can we go back down now?” Pipi said. He hadn’t heard a word I’d said.

“It’s damn hot up here,” Papi said.

And they waddled off.

Abbie and Artie, the armadillos living under the front porch, said they absolutely would not go back to Mexico. They said they were born in the United States, Abbie in Texas and Artie in Kansas, and they had the paperwork to prove it.

“Trust me, we’ll put up a formidable defense if anybody tries to send us back,” Artie said. “We fled persecution.”

“And we’re the dreamers,” Abby said.

As the armadillos left, the tiny Madagascar hissing cockroaches marched in. There were nine of them, up from five last week. I stared at them.

“You know, I never invited you here,” I said. “There may be a new law. You may have to go back to Madagascar.”

“We ain’t going nowhere,” one of them said. I never gave them names. They sleep in the guest bathroom, behind the toilet.

“Out,” I said. They shrugged and crawled off.

This was going very badly.

I talked to my wallabies, monitor lizards, boa constrictors, Andean guinea pigs and the two scorpions Peter and Polly, who live high up on the west wall of the poolhouse. Then, I talked to the hyenas, who just laughed at me hysterically. And when I talked to the monitor lizard, Justin, who lives alone in the attic, he bit my foot.

That left only Otto and Ophelia, the two Indian elephants. They’ve been wonderful to me since I set up camp for them in my garage. I hobbled over to look out the window at them. I didn’t have the heart to tell them anything.

From the window, I could also see the woods at the back of the property. Above the trees, Ginny and George, my giraffes, were munching the leaves. I sighed. Write the governor.


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