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New law in Quintana Roo prohibits putting most wild animals on display

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Environmentalists celebrated the passing of the new law banning the exhibition and exploitation of animals in public spaces, though there is a concern that money will prevail over the rule of law. Photo: Trip Advisor

Federal laws protecting wild animals from public exhibitions have long been on the books.

But this has not stopped scofflaws out for a buck, especially in Quintana Roo’s tourist towns and resorts.

As a result, the state’s legislature has passed a newly explicit law.

“Today we celebrate the end of this terrible practice,” said state Rep. Tyara Scheleske de Ariño.

The law prohibits touching or taking photographs with primates, felines, and reptiles, although it does not expressly mention birds.

This is a likely informal nod to multimillion-dollar “eco theme parks,” where the practice of selling photos of tourists next to scarlet macaws is part of their business model.

The move has been widely celebrated by environmentalists across Mexico. But there is still a concern that financial interests and corruption will impede a true end to these sorts of practices. 

Earlier: Tiger on the run near Cancún sparks concern

Over the past several decades, small spider monkeys and capuchins (which are not even endemic to Mexico) have often been paraded about at resorts and shopping malls in Cancún and Playa del Carmen.

Other common species of animals typically found on display to pet and photograph, for a fee, include baby jaguars as well large iguanas and snakes. 

The new law prohibiting this type of activity can be seen in the context of a larger move towards a more ethical treatment of animals in the Yucatán Peninsula. 

In 2015, the state of Yucatán passed a new regulation banning the use of animals in circuses, as well as torneos de lazo, a brutal rodeo-style event. 

Somewhat paradoxically, bullfights are still legal in Yucatán, as they are in much of Mexico. 

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