I. Introduction to Legal Control Over Great Apes in Georgia
According to the Georgia legislature, the importation, transportation, sale, transfer, and possession of an ape (or any other wild animal) is a privilege, not a right. Under the state’s Wild Animals Law, that privilege will not be granted unless “it can be clearly demonstrated” that those actions will not “pose unnecessary risk to Georgia’s wildlife and other natural resources or to the citizens of and visitors to this state.” All species of apes are classified as “inherently dangerous” animals and as a result are among the most heavily regulated animals in the state. Under the Wild Animals Law, it is illegal to possess or sell chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and gibbons for use as pets. While apes may be imported, possessed, sold, and transported for approved commercial, scientific, or educational purposes, a state wild animal license or permit is required to conduct any of those activities. Also, Georgia’s Wild Animals Law sets minimum standards for the housing, maintenance, and care of all captive apes within the state. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources administers the state’s wild animal license/permit program and enforces the Wild Animals Law. Although most states’ anti-cruelty laws, make it a crime to abuse or neglect apes, Georgia’s laws provide additional protection by also making it a crime for any person to violate the state’s minimum standards of care for those animals.
Political subdivisions of the state, including counties, cities, and towns may also regulate the possession or use of apes within their geographical boundaries. Although there are fairly extensive state-level laws relating to apes, some cities and counties in Georgia have enacted stricter local laws governing the possession and use of those animals. Typically, local ordinances either: (1) ban the possession of apes for certain purposes, or entirely; (2) regulate activities involving apes; or (3) set minimum standards for the care and treatment of apes.
The various sources of law governing the import, possession, use and treatment of Great Apes are not uniformly applicable to all apes within the state. Instead, each statute and regulation must be analyzed according to the particular purpose for which an ape is possessed. The following discussion begins with a general overview of the various state statutes and regulations affecting Great Apes. It then analyzes the applicability of those laws to the possession and use of apes for specific purposes, including their possession as pets, for scientific research, for commercial purposes, and in sanctuaries. The discussion concludes with a compilation of local ordinances which govern the possession and use of apes within geographic subdivisions of the state.
II. Sources of State Laws
There are two types of state-level laws that govern the import, possession, use, and treatment of apes: (1) statutes, and (2) regulations. Statutes are laws that are enacted by the state legislature and regulations are laws that are enacted by state agencies. Without an express delegation of power from the state legislature, agencies have no authority to issue and enforce regulations. This delegation of power comes from a statute that directs an agency to accomplish a general goal, like regulating the importation of apes to prevent the spread of infectious diseases or setting minimum standards of care for captive apes. Once an agency is directed to accomplish a general goal, it has the authority to establish and enforce regulations that are consistent with that goal. On the other hand, some state statutes are self-implementing, which means they are complete and in effect without the need for regulations and enforcement by administrative agencies. Those statutes, which are in Section A below, directly regulate the conduct of the citizenry rather than directing an agency to do so. Section B identifies the state agencies that have been authorized by the state legislature to regulate certain aspects of the importation, possession, or use of apes, and discusses the regulations that those agencies have enacted that affect apes.
A. State Statutes
In Georgia, there are two state laws that apply to apes - the Wild Animals Law and the state’s anti-cruelty statute. The Wild Animals Law sets forth the restrictions and legal requirements for importing, possessing, and selling apes in Georgia and the state’s anti-cruelty statute generally protects captive apes from abuse and neglect.
i) Wild Animals Law: Georgia’s Wild Animals Law classifies all species of apes as “inherently dangerous” animals and strictly regulates them to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. A Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wild animal license or permit is required to import or possess any species of ape. The agency does not issue licenses or permits to import, possess, or sell apes as pets. Annual licenses are issued to qualified animal dealers or exhibitors that have met certain legal requirements and annual permits are issued to research facilities, educational institutions, governmental agencies, and other organizations that use apes for scientific or educational purposes. Any ape in the state of Georgia without a valid wild animal license or permit is “a nuisance and is contraband” and is subject to seizure by state or local law enforcement agents.
(a) Wild Animal Licenses and Permits: Because wild animal licenses and permits are issued for different purposes, they are discussed separately below.
Wild Animal Licenses: The state’s Department of Natural Resources issues wild animal licenses to qualified animal dealers and exhibitors (such as circuses, zoos, wild animal parks and animal acts) that are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (under the Federal Animal Welfare Act) and that hold all necessary business licenses. In order to qualify for a license to import or possess apes, all applicants must have liability insurance to cover injuries or damage caused by those animals. In determining whether to issue a license, DNR may inspect an applicant’s facilities to ensure that the ape(s) will be housed in facilities that meet the state’s minimum standards (discussed below). Wild animal licenses are valid for one year and may contain a variety of conditions and restrictions to promote the safety and welfare of the animals and the public.
Wild Animal Permits: Research facilities, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and other qualifying organizations must obtain a free wild animal permit in order to import and possess apes for scientific or educational purposes. In order to qualify for a permit, all applicants must have facilities that meet the state’s minimum standards (discussed below), and certain applicants must have liability insurance to cover injuries or damage caused by the applicant’s apes. Wild animal permits are valid for one year and may contain a variety of conditions and restrictions to promote the safety and welfare of the animals and the public.
(b) Minimum Standards for the Housing and Care of Apes: In addition to all applicable federal standards (under the Federal Animal Welfare Act), wild animal license and permit holders must also comply with the state’s minimum standards for the housing and care of wild animals, including apes:
Facility Design and Construction: All facilities housing apes must be designed, constructed, and maintained in a manner that will protect the animals and safeguard the public against injuries. Specifically, all facilities must have:
(1) Barriers to prevent direct physical contact between the animals and the public;
(2) Electric power and potable water;
(3) Disposal facilities that are in compliance with federal, state, and local pollution control and environmental protection laws; and
(4) Washrooms, basins, showers, or sinks.
Indoor facilities must be equipped with:
(1) Heating or cooling devices to protect animals from extreme temperatures;
(2) Natural or artificial ventilation to provide fresh air and minimize drafts, odors, and moisture condensation; and
(3) Adequate lighting.
Outdoor facilities must offer shade from direct sunlight and appropriate natural or artificial shelters. There are no specific measurements for minimum cage sizes, but they must be large enough to “allow each animal to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement.” All facilities must be approved by the Department of Natural Resources and it is illegal for any license or permit holder to import, transport, possess, or sell an ape in an unapproved facility.
Sanitation: All waste, soiled bedding, and trash must be removed from the enclosures and disposed of according to applicable laws. Animal waste must be removed as often as necessary to prevent contamination of the animals and to minimize disease hazards and odors. When cages or enclosures are cleaned with water, the animals must be removed or otherwise protected from being sprayed. Facilities must be equipped with drains or other suitable methods for the rapid elimination of excess water. Bedding materials must be stored in an appropriate manner to prevent molding and contamination by vermin.
Food and Water: Animals must be fed wholesome, unspoiled, nutritionally appropriate food at least once a day. Water must be provided as often as necessary for the health and comfort of the animals. Food and water receptacles must be clean and sanitary at all times. Food must be stored in an appropriate manner to prevent contamination, molding, and vermin infestation. Perishable food must be refrigerated.
Animal Health: All animals must be observed daily and sick, diseased, injured, or stressed animals must be given veterinary care or humanely euthanized (except in the case of laboratory animals when veterinary care or euthanasia would be inconsistent with the purposes for which the animal was obtained and is being held). Facilities that hold infected or diseased animals must be sanitized using approved methods.
Animal Safety: Only compatible animals may be housed together and physical separation is mandatory when one animal threatens the health or comfort of another. Animals must be handled in a manner that does not cause unnecessary discomfort, behavioral stress, or physical harm.
Animal Transport: Vehicles transporting animals must be clean and equipped with: (1) ventilation to provide the animals with fresh air; (2) cargo spaces that protect animals from exposure to exhaust fumes; and (3) heating and cooling systems to maintain a comfortable and safe ambient temperature for the animals. Transport cages must be clean, well ventilated, and large enough for each animal to turn around freely and make normal postural adjustments. Cages should be positioned within transport vehicles so that all animals have access to sufficient air, are protected from the elements, and can be removed quickly in an emergency. Animals should be given water at least once every 12 hours and fed at least once every 24 hours (or more often if necessary). Animals in transit must be inspected as often as necessary to assure their health and comfort and must have veterinary care “without delay” in any emergency which threatens their health or welfare.
Secure Confinement: Although there are no specific standards for the secure confinement of apes, the Wild Animals Law makes it illegal to import, transport, sell, transfer, or possess an ape “in such a manner so as to pose a reasonable possibility” that the ape will escape or be accidently released. DNR may revoke the license or permit of any person who fails to adequately confine his or her ape.
Shooting, Wounding, and Killing Wild Animals: It is illegal to shoot, wound, or kill any ape (or other wild animal) held under a license or permit for enjoyment, gain, amusement, or sport.
Although the state’s minimum standards generally do not offer apes better living conditions than those required by federal law, they increase the overall legal protection for apes by making it a state crime to maintain apes in substandard conditions and providing for state and local enforcement of those standards.
(c) Enforcement of the Wild Animals Law: In addition to state and local law enforcement agents, DNR’s conservation rangers enforce the state’s Wild Animals Law. Any person who imports, possesses, transports, transfers, or sells an ape without a wild animal license or permit or who violates the minimum standards discussed above is guilty of a misdemeanor. A wild animal license or permit holder who violates the Wild Animals Law may have that license or permit suspended or revoked for up to two years.
ii) Anti-Cruelty Statute: The state’s anti-cruelty statute, which prohibits the willful neglect or physical abuse of animals, generally applies to Great Apes in Georgia. Because all captive apes are necessarily dependant on their keepers, the provision requiring owners to provide their animals with necessary food and water are particularly relevant. In addition, apes are sometimes trained or induced to perform for public entertainment by chemical, electrical, mechanical, and manual devices that inflict physical or psychological injuries. Accordingly, the section that prohibits any person from unjustifiably inflicting physical pain or suffering on an animal may protect apes from being physically abused in the course of training, to induce performances, or for any other reason.
Any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or peace officer has the authority to enforce the state’s anti-cruelty laws and to impound abused or neglected apes. Once impounded, apes cannot be returned to an owner that has previously failed to provide humane care to an animal or committed cruelty to animals in Georgia or any other state. All violations of the state’s anti-cruelty laws are misdemeanors, but the criminal penalties range depending on the severity of the crime and the defendant’s past history of similar convictions.
B. State Agencies and Regulations
In Georgia, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the sole agency responsible for regulating apes and other wild animals within the state. DNR has the authority to establish regulations governing the importation, possession, and sale of those animals. However, perhaps because the Wild Animals Law is so comprehensive, the agency has not made additional rules for the importation, possession, and care of apes; rather, it administers the state’s wild animal license/permit program and enforces the existing restrictions and legal requirements in the Wild Animals Law.
i) Georgia Department of Natural Resources: The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates the importation, possession, sale, and transportation of apes and other wild animals in Georgia. The agency’s role in administering the state’s wild animal license/permit program and enforcing the Wild Animals Law is discussed in Section II(A)(i), above.
ii) Georgia Department of Agriculture: The Department of Agriculture’s (GDA) Animal Industry Division regulates the interstate movement of animals in order to control and eradicate animal diseases. Section 16 of GDA’s Interstate Movement Health Requirements mandates that all exotic animals entering Georgia be accompanied by an official certificate of veterinary inspection which identifies each animal with unique permanent individual identification. In addition, all “monkeys” entering the state must have a unique tattoo or an electronic identification device (microchip) and must test negative to a tuberculosis test within 12 months prior to entry. It is unclear whether GDA intended to extend this requirement to apes as well as monkeys.
III. Analysis of State Laws as Applied to Specific Uses
The laws that are discussed in Section II each govern certain aspects of the import, possession, use, or treatment of captive apes. Those laws are not uniformly applicable to all apes; instead, they vary according to the purpose for which an ape is possessed. In the U.S., captive apes are generally possessed for use as pets, scientific research subjects, for exhibition or other commercial purposes, or they are retired and live in sanctuaries. The remainder of this section discusses how the state’s laws affect apes that are possessed for each of those purposes.
A. Possession of Great Apes as Pets
It is illegal to import, possess, sell, or otherwise transfer any ape for use as a pet in Georgia. The Wild Animals Law includes a “grandfather clause” which allows anyone who had an ape on July 1, 1994 to keep that animal for the remainder of his or her life if they applied for a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permit prior to January 1, 1995. Any person who possesses a pet ape under a DNR permit must comply with the liability insurance requirements and the minimum standards of care discussed in Section II(A)(i), above. It is illegal to breed, sell, or otherwise transfer permitted pet apes without authorization from DNR.
The state’s anti-cruelty laws generally protect pet apes from abuse and neglect. In addition, the Wild Animals Law makes it a crime to house or maintain pet apes under conditions that do not meet the state’s minimum standards.
B. Possession of Great Apes for Biomedical Research
It is illegal to import, possess, transport, transfer, or sell an ape for any purpose without a Georgia wild animal license or permit. The Department of Natural Resources issues wild animal permits to government agencies, educational institutions, and research facilities that possess apes for scientific research. Aside from government agencies and educational institutions, all research facilities must obtain liability insurance covering damages or injuries caused by their apes in order to qualify for a wild animal permit. Also, all permit applicants must have facilities that meet the state’s requirements (discussed in Section II(A)(i), above). In addition to the federal standards of care (under the Federal Animal Welfare Act), all wild animal permit holders must comply with the state’s minimum standards for the care, housing, maintenance and transportation of apes (discussed in Section II(A)(i), above). Finally, the state’s Wild Animals Law requires research facilities to “effectively minimize the pain and discomfort of the animals while under experimentation,” by using appropriate drugs to produce “a high level of tranquilization, anesthesia, or analgesia consistent with the protocol or design of the experiment.” Any permit holder that fails to maintain laboratory apes according to the state’s minimum standards or violates any other portion of the Wild Animals Law is guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to criminal penalties may face suspension or revocation of a wild animal permit for up to two years.
C. Possession of Great Apes for Entertainment and Other Commercial Purposes
The commercial use of apes generally includes the breeding, sale, display, and exhibition of those animals. It is illegal to import or possess an ape for any commercial purpose without a Georgia wild animal license. Qualified animal dealers and exhibitors (like circuses, zoos, wild animal parks, and animal acts) that are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture may obtain a wild animal license from the Department of Natural Resources if they: (1) have approved facilities; (2) obtain liability insurance for injuries and damage caused by their apes; and (3) meet the other pre-licensure requirements. All exhibitors and dealers must comply with the state’s minimum standards for the housing, care, and transportation of apes and other wild animals. (See Section II(A)(i), above.) In addition to the general rules discussed above, the Wild Animals Law has certain requirements that specifically apply to the exhibition and sale of wild animals.
Exhibition: Exhibitors in a fixed location (non-travelling) are required to open the facility to the public for at least 30 hours a week, six months of the year. Travelling exhibitors are required to open the facility to the public for a reasonable amount of time and for a reasonable duration, depending on the nature of the exhibit. This requirement discourages unscrupulous exotic pet owners from claiming to be exhibitors in order to circumvent the state’s pet ban.
During public display, animals must be handled so there is a minimum risk of harm to the public and sufficient distance should be maintained between the animals and the public to protect the safety of both. Direct contact with apes is not prohibited; however if an exhibitor does allow such contact, the animals must be displayed “for periods of time and under conditions consistent with the animals' health and not leading to their discomfort.” Performing animals must be allowed to rest between performances for a period of time that is equal to one performance.
Sale of Apes: It is legal for animal dealers who are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to import, breed, and sell apes. However, all apes that are imported for resale must be accompanied by a health certificate. It is illegal to sell, transfer, deliver, or surrender an ape to any person that does not have a Georgia wild animal license or permit. Wild animal auctions may be held in Georgia with a DNR-issued wild animal auction license and in compliance with all relevant provisions of the Wild Animals Law. Auctions selling apes must obtain liability insurance and comply with the state’s minimum standards for the care and transportation of those animals. In addition, auctioneers may not sell apes to individuals who do not have a wild animal license or permit.
The state’s anti-cruelty laws generally protect apes that are kept for commercial purposes from abuse and neglect. (See Section II(A)(ii), above.) In addition, the Wild Animals Law makes it a crime to house, maintain, or transport apes under conditions that do not meet the state’s minimum standards. (See Section II(A)(i), above.)
D. Possession of Great Apes by Sanctuaries
Georgia’s laws do not define animal “sanctuaries” or set any minimum standards for the types of organizations that qualify as legitimate sanctuaries. As a result, any organization could label itself a “sanctuary” regardless of whether it actually provides lifetime care for animals. “Sanctuaries” that exhibit apes are considered commercial exhibitors under the Wild Animals Law and the rules discussed in Section III(C), above apply to those facilities. On the other hand, “sanctuaries” that house - but do not publicly exhibit - apes may qualify for a wild animal permit to possess apes for educational or scientific purposes. The Wild Animals Law is not clear on this issue and there are no DNR regulations governing the possession of apes by “sanctuaries.”
IV. Local Ordinances
Certain provisions within Georgia’s state statutes authorize counties and local municipalities establish ordinances governing the possession and use of animals within their jurisdictions. The following list of ordinances is not exhaustive; rather, it is a partial list of local laws that demonstrates how some towns, cities, and counties in Georgia have addressed the possession of apes within their jurisdictions.
Baldwin County 14-48: It is illegal to keep any wild animal for exhibition purposes. The ban does not apply to zoos; 14-49: “No performing animal exhibition or circus shall be permitted in which animals are induced or encouraged to perform through the use of chemical, mechanical, electrical or manual devices in a manner which will cause, or is likely to cause, physical injury or suffering.” (Res. of 1-5-1999, § 18, 19)
Covington 6.12.010 et seq.: It is illegal to keep or allow any ape in any residence or within 300 feet of any residence or other building used for human habitation. It is illegal to vaccinate (or attempt to vaccinate) any ape against rabies with a live vaccine. Also, it is illegal to possess or keep any ape that has been vaccinated against rabies with a live vaccine. These ordinances do not apply to apes that are kept in publicly owned zoos or in certain educational or research facilities. (Ord. dated 8/20/07 (part))
Fannin County 14-67 et seq.: The following procedural requirements apply to the keeping of apes within the county. At least 90 days prior to applying for a wild animal license from the state, any person who intends to own, keep, hold, or harbor an ape within Fannin County must first notify the Fannin County land planning development officer (LPDO) and supply the LPDO with a survey of the property on which the apes will be kept and a list of the species and numbers of animals to be maintained on the property. Apes may not be kept on any parcel of land that is less than 100 acres and facilities for housing those animals must be located at least 500 feet from all adjacent property lines (unless the setback is permanently waived by the adjacent property owners). Any parcel of land on which apes are kept must include a 100 foot buffer zone of natural vegetation bordering all adjacent property lines. Any person planning to import apes into Fannin County must first provide the local animal control officer with a certificate of health that confirms that the animal does not have any communicable diseases. At least 15 days prior to possessing an ape within the county, any person wishing to own, keep, or maintain the animal must submit proof of liability insurance of $100,000 for each ape, up to a maximum of $1,000,000 (this insurance requirement is higher than the state’s requirement under the Wild Animals Law). Apes must be confined and cared for according to the minimum standards of care set forth in Georgia’s Wild Animals Law. In addition to these rules, the board of commissioners reserves the right to: (1) impose additional requirements for the keeping of apes and other wild animals; or (2) reject an application entirely if it determines that the applicant’s wild animal facility cannot be operated in a manner that ensures the health, safety, and well-being of the county’s citizens. These ordinances do not prohibit the exhibition of apes within the county in conjunction with a state-licensed educational program, circus, fair, or similar program; 14-75: “Absolutely no animal will be allowed to be owned, kept, held, harbored or maintained within Fannin County, a political subdivision of the State of Georgia, which has ever been involved in any manner in any biomedical research involving a contagious or communicable disease that is still present (in an active or dormant form) in said animal.”
 “Wild animal” means any animal which is not wildlife and is not normally a domestic species in this state. This term specifically includes any hybrid or cross between any combination of a wild animal, wildlife, and a domestic animal. Offspring from all subsequent generations of such crosses or hybrids are wild animals. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-1-2(75).
 No state license or permit is required for the transportation of apes through the state as long as the animals remain in the state less than 24 hours and are not sold or transferred while in Georgia. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-4(b)(1); Also, federally regulated carriers are not required to obtain a state license or permit to import or transport apes. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-4(d); See also, Ga. Code Ann. § 27-1-2 (defining the term ”carrier,” as used in Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-4(d)).
 The applicant must have at least $40,000 dollars in liability insurance per ape (or other inherently dangerous animal) up to a maximum of $500,000 dollars. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-4(f).
 Unless otherwise specified, licenses are valid from April 1 through March 31. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-4; The annual fee for a wild animal license is $236.00 dollars; however, that fee is waived for federal, state, and local government agencies and transient circuses that donate at least 10% of their proceeds from animal exhibitions to charitable causes within Georgia. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-2-23; Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-4(e).
 Government agencies and educational institutions are exempt from the liability insurance requirement. All other permit applicants must have at least $40,000 dollars in liability insurance per ape (or other inherently dangerous animal) up to a maximum of $500,000 dollars. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-4(f).
 Inadequate space may be indicated by evidence of malnutrition, poor condition, debility, stress, or abnormal behavioral patterns. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-6(4).
 “Certain species” (the law does not specify which species) may be restricted in their movements according to professionally accepted standards when freedom of movement would constitute a danger to the animals or their handlers. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-6(13)(C).
 Animals in transit may be fed and watered less often for veterinary treatment or other professionally accepted practices. Ga. Code Ann. § 27-5-6(14).
 Ga. Code Ann. § 27-1-16; Ga. Code Ann. § 27-1-18; Ga. Code Ann. § 27-1-20.
 Ga. Code Ann. § 27-1-38.
 Ga. Code Ann. § 27-2-25.
 This authority does not extend to apes that are used for scientific experiments at accredited educational institutions or research facilities that are registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ga. Code Ann. § 4-11-9.2. Authorized agents of the Georgia Department of Agriculture and animal control officers may also impound abused or neglected apes. Prior to confiscating an animal, the impounding officer must have a qualified veterinarian examine and determine the condition of the animal. Id.
 Ga. Code Ann. § 4-1-3.
 Ga. Code Ann. § 36-1-20; Ga. Code Ann. § 36-34-1.