By Kate Schwass-Bueckert
Snakes and exotic pets dominated headlines in 2013, particularly in August after two young brothers died when an African rock python escaped its enclosure and suffocated them as they slept.
Bry Loyst, curator of the Indian River Reptile Zoo near Peterborough, Ont., said at the time the snake must have been confused when it encountered four-year-old Noah Barthe and his brother Connor, 6. The two boys had been at a petting zoo earlier in the day, and may have still smelled like the animals, which is likely why the snake decided to constrict the two boys while they slept.
"Potentially dangerous animals of any kind — whether it be tigers, lions, bears, cobras, rattlesnakes, large pythons — shouldn't be kept in a private residence," Loyst said.
"This was an accident waiting to happen."
Since then, authorities have been removing illegal or mistreated snakes, alligators and other exotic animals from homes across the country, and the federal government, provincial leaders and municipalities are all looking at new regulations to protect animals and keep residents safe.
Ontario has asked for at least 36 separate studies looking into the issue, while in December, the New Brunswick government passed a motion by the Opposition Liberals calling for a complete review of the province's Fish and Wildlife Act, which oversees exotic animals.
"Other jurisdictions are looking at New Brunswick for leadership on this file," Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault said in a statement about the motion he proposed. "This file has no politics, it is just the right thing to do."
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