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Santa Monica May Be Banning Street Performers With Spiders, Rats And Rabbits

A snake handler in Santa Monica. Snakes are currently banned in public spaces in the city. (Photo by J Jakobson via the Creative Commons)
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If you are planning on taking your spider for a walk along the Santa Monica pier, it would be best to do it now. The Santa Monica City Council will be considering a proposed ban on spiders and other creatures during their January 10 meeting.

A 2015 law already bans snakes, birds, reptiles, and non-human primates from beaches and other public spaces in the city. However, the new proposal would add arachnids (spiders, scorpions, et. al.), rodentia (i.e. rodents), and lagomorpha (which includes rabbits) to the list, reports the Santa Monica Lookout.

The new ban seeks to “prohibit such animals from the City’s most congested public spaces in order to protect the public’s safety and to promote the general welfare," according to the proposal.

Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu proposed a similar exotic animal ban in November. Ryu cited a report of an elephant being led by a handler through the Hollywood Hills as impetus for his proposal.

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"Wild and exotic animals have a long history of being exploited for public and private entertainment," Ryu said in a statement. "Treating animals in this manner has taught generations of people that it is okay to view wild and exotic animals as toys. It is time that the City of Los Angeles take action to make clear that exhibiting such animals in this way is no longer in line with our City’s values.”

But Santa Monica's existing ban has already had an economic impact on street performers and others who entertain the 500,000 visitors that descend on the pier each weekend.

According to the Lookout, Howard Kaminsky, known as "the birdman of Santa Monica", noted that the city council should enforce stricter regulations, rather than impose an outright ban.

“I believe my birds are special, and I see the happiness and wonder they bring to the people who visit and talk and play and cuddle with them,” he said. “I strongly urge these acts not be removed because it is my livelihood and many come from all around the world to pat and talk and interact with these amazing animals.”

Violation of the ban may result in a misdemeanor charge punishable by an up-to $500 fine, six months in jail, or both.