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Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

November 8, 2011

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There have been a lot of news reports about escaped exotic animals lately –- an escaped flamingo in Westchester the other week; the Ohio zoo owner who released all of his animals before killing himself last month; the Central Park Zoo peacock found sitting on a window ledge on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan earlier this summer; and of course, the poisonous Bronx Zoo cobra that slithered its way around NYC for an entire week back in April of this year. All of these stories got us thinking about the insurance implications of wild animal escapes and apparently we were not the only ones. New York Magazine’s [i]Daily Intel[/i] blog recently published an interesting article about the unique world of zoo and wildlife preserve insurance.
Typically, this type of insurance policy is not issued by a major insurance company, but by niche underwriters who specialize in these types of exotic risks. The insurers can issue a large policy covering the entire wildlife operation, or they can issue per-animal coverage based upon the type of animal, whether it is poisonous, its natural intelligence, its likelihood of causing damage or the type of injury the animal might inflict upon a human if it escaped. Quite naturally, the insurer that Daily Intel interviewed for the article owns a personal Noah’s ark of 26 tigers, leopards, cougars, emus, yaks, and Watusi cattle!
Another interesting point – in light of last month’s animal escape in Ohio, that state’s legislature has proposed a law requiring exotic animal owners to carry a minimum of $250,000 liability insurance and to implant electronic tracking devices in their animals
Thanks to Alex Niederman for his contribution to this post.
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