In Idaho, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, gibbons, and all other nonhuman primates are classified as “deleterious exotic animals” which are dangerous to the environment, livestock, agriculture, or wildlife of the state. As a result of this classification, it is illegal to import or possess an ape without a Deleterious Exotic Animal permit issued by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA). The agency issues two types of permits for the possession of apes and other deleterious exotic animals: (1) Possession Permits; and (2) Temporary Exhibitor Permits which authorize circuses and other exhibitors to possess and display deleterious exotic animals for up to 30 days within the state. Until 2009, only zoos and other U.S. Department of Agriculture licensed exhibitors, educational institutions, and research facilities could obtain an ISDA Possession Permit. This meant that apes could not be imported, possessed, bought, or sold for use as pets or by facilities other than those listed above. ISDA amended its Exotic Animal Regulations in 2009 and under the agency’s current rules, any person (or facility) that is qualified, has an approved facility, and meets the agency’s other requirements can now obtain a permit to possess apes. As a result, apes may once again be possessed as pets, or for any other purpose, with an ISDA Possession Permit.
In addition to a Possession Permit or a Temporary Exhibitor Permit, anyone wishing to import an ape must also have an ISDA Import Permit, any permits required by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, any necessary federal permits, and a certificate of veterinary inspection. It is illegal to import any animal that is infected with a contagious, infectious, or communicable disease, and all animals entering the state may be subject to a post-entry inspection by state or federal animal health officials.
In general, Idaho has no laws establishing minimum standards for the care of captive apes. However, ISDA’s regulations do require that all confinement areas for apes and other deleterious exotic animals comply with the construction standards in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Minimum Husbandry Guidelines for Mammals. Also, ISDA may impose special permit conditions to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the covered animal(s). Also, all exhibitors, animal dealers, and research facilities with apes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and must comply with the federal standards of care for primates. Finally, the state’s general anti-cruelty laws prohibit the physical abuse of apes (and other animals) and require all owners, custodians, and possessors of captive apes to properly care for their animals and to provide adequate and sanitary housing facilities, sustenance, water, and shelter.
Idaho’s extensive permit requirements allow state officials to track every ape entering the state. ISDA also closely regulates the in-state breeding of apes and other deleterious exotic animals and has established comprehensive identification and reporting requirements to monitor all apes legally residing within the state. Apes and other deleterious exotic animals held under a Possession Permit may not be bred, except by qualified facilities with express written agency authorization (currently only three facilities within the state qualify for agency authorization). Because of that restriction, the state is able to closely monitor the number of new apes in the state (that are born in Idaho, rather than imported). Also, all apes and other deleterious exotic animals must all be uniquely identified with a microchip and a tattoo. Each year all Possession Permit holders must submit to ISDA a complete and accurate inventory of the deleterious exotic animals possessed under each permit. The annual inventory must include each animal’s unique identification and must report all births, deaths, and transfers (including the name and address of the person to whom a deleterious exotic animal was transferred). As a result of the state’s various import and possession permit requirements, ISDA’s breeding restrictions, and the agency’s animal identification and annual reporting requirements, Idaho has a comprehensive system for tracking and monitoring all captive apes within the state.