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ferret-apartment-new-york-banned-Health code-petsApartment photo by Carlo De La Cruz, photoshopping by Matt Nestor

It may be a Brooklyn Zoo out there, but strictly in a metaphorical sense: New York has some of the strictest pet restrictions in the nation. Pursuant to laws enacted in 1999 and protested to this day, many well-liked creatures have no legal standing in our urban jungle. Which creatures, you ask? Never fear. Untapped Cities dove into Health Code Section 161.01 so you don’t have to. 

Most famously criminal in NYC is the ferret. Though legal in other parts of the state, the Board of Health outlawed them after hearing the testimony of an anonymous New Hampshire vet. Ferret activists stood up for the “fur-bearing mammals of the family Mustelidae,” but made no impression on Rudy Giuliani. In a now infamous (and completely hilarious) radio rant, then-mayor Giuliani told a caller to his radio show that “this excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness,” and “you should go consult a psychologist or a psychiatrist.”

banned-Health code-pets-banned-Health code-pets-NYCApartment photo by Carlo De La Cruz, photoshopping by Matt Nestor

Another surprising outlaw is the iguana, beloved glass tank denizen in millions of homes. Though this Untapped writer remembers an Iguana tank in his kindergarten room, BOH classes them as wild animals, i.e. “any animals which are naturally inclined to do harm and capable of inflicting harm up on human beings.” Hedgehogs, star of some of the Internet’s cutest videos, also fall in this category.

apartment-snake-new-york-banned-Health code-pets-NYCApartment photo by Carlo De La Cruz, photoshopping by Matt Nestor

The rationale behind banning certain other animals makes more sense. Lions are obviously inappropriate tenants, as are polar bears; also elephants, zebras, rhinoceroses (no it’s not rhinoceri), giraffes, hippopotami (this time the i is okay), pigs, pumas, cheetahs, deer, and gorillas. Poisonous snakes are popular pets, but the city bans them; ducks and squirrels would seem fairly inoffensive, if unmanageable, but the city restricts them as well. But did they really need to specifically ban WHALES? Actually, maybe. If you need any further evidence of how outrageously decadent life in Dubai is, just read this.

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