Kinkajous: State commission rejects petition to legalize them as pets
Despite a recent effort to change the rules, it's still illegal to own a kinkajou as a pet in Colorado.
Last week, the state Parks and Wildlife Commission denied a petition from a man named Jared Dryer, who was seeking to legalize the possession of kinkajous. The kinkajou is a nocturnal rainforest mammal that has an obscenely long tongue and an obscenely cute nickname, the "honey bear" -- so called because it uses its long tongue to lick nectar from flowers. But its cuteness wasn't enough to sway the commissioners.
YouTube features many videos of people showing off their pet kinkajous. We've included several below, including this one.
Nonetheless, the eleven-member commission unanimously denied Dryer's petition on January 10, according to spokesman Randy Hampton.
Dryer, who did not attend the meeting, could not be reached for comment. But his petition, which reads like a science report on the kinkajou and notes the states where the animal is legal (Arizona, Nevada and Kansas, to name a few), was up against some tough opposition.
Both the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment submitted letters recommending against kinkajou legalization.
The state veterinarian noted in a letter that the kinkajou has sharp teeth and is capable of spreading rabies.
And the state communicable disease epidemiology section chief raised concerns about "unrecognizable pathogens" that kinkajous may harbor.
As an example of such "unrecognizable pathogens," she pointed to a 2003 outbreak of monkeypox among pet prairie dogs -- a disease, she wrote, that the prairie dogs picked up from African rats. (Yikes!)
"Prairie dogs are highly susceptible to monkeypox infection and are capable of transmitting this virus to their owners," she added. "Seventy-one human monkeypox cases were identified in this multistate outbreak."
Also mentioned at the commission meeting, Hampton says, was the fact that heiress Paris Hilton was bitten by her pet kinkajou, Baby Luv, in 2006.
Hilton went to the emergency room, where she received a tetanus shot, according to press accounts. But the bite wasn't bad enough to keep her from doing two photo shoots the following day.
The media has reported other kinkajou bites, as well. In 2011, a sixteen-year-old in Tennessee spent six days in the hospital battling a bacteria she likely contracted when her aunt's kinkajou bit her, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Look below to read Dryer's petition, as well as the letters submitted by the state agencies opposing kinkajou legalization.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Video: The Daily Show rips Brosurance...and Hosurance."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.