In the waning hours of the regular legislative session Wednesday, state lawmakers revived and unanimously approved a previously stalled bill prompted by the Stamford chimpanzee attack - a ban on the private ownership of gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans.
The measure was drastically pared back from an earlier version that would have added a much longer list of new animals to those already banned under existing law. Critics said that the original version was far too sweeping.
The action came a day after state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal decried the fact that "lawmakers failed to pass my proposal" following February's attack on Charla Nash by a chimpanzee named Travis.
The bill would add only gorillas, chimps and orangutans to the list of wild animals already prohibited under existing state law: lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, ocelots, bobcats and other big, wild cats - as well as wolves, coyotes and bears.
The measure had been bogged down in recent weeks over worries by some lawmakers and pet owners that the earlier language was too sweeping and banned too many sorts of animals. The earlier version would have banned baboons, kangaroos, wolverines, hyenas, elephants, hippos, alligators, crocodiles, rattlesnakes, cobras and pythons.
One issue that had stalled the bill's progress, for example, was the proposed ban on wolverines. It turned out that ferrets, which many people own as pets, are related to wolverines, and ferret owners expressed concerns about that part of the bill, said state Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, co-chairman of the legislature's environment committee.
The bill exempts zoos, sanctuaries and similar facilities from the ban, and says it is permissible for people to own a primate weighing less than 35 pounds at maturity that they obtained before Oct. 1, 2003.
The proposal, which passed 151-0 in the House and 36-0 in the Senate, was prompted by the attack on Nash, 55, by Travis, a 200-pound chimpanzee. Nash was critically injured after she went to the Stamford home of her close friend Sandra Herold to help her with Herold's 14-year-old chimp.
Nash, who suffered severe face and hand injuries and was blinded in the attack, is undergoing treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. Police shot and killed the animal.
Months before the attack, a biologist at the state Department of Environmental Protection raised concerns about the danger of a chimpanzee's living in a private home, but his superiors decided not to take action.Copyright © 2015, CT Now