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Special Events - Exotic Animal Permits

DC Code

DC Code § 8-1808(j) reads that:

(j)(1) Except as provided in this subsection, a person shall not import into the District, possess, display, offer for sale, trade, barter, exchange, or adoption, or give as a household pet, any living member of the animal kingdom, including those born or raised in captivity, except the following:

(A) Domestic dogs, excluding hybrids with wolves, coyotes, or jackals;

(B) Domestic cats, excluding hybrids with ocelots or margays;

(C) Domesticated rodents and rabbits;

(D) Captive-bred species of common cage birds, including chickens;

(E) Non-venomous snakes, fish, and turtles, traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes;

(F) Ferrets; and

(G) Racing pigeons, when kept in compliance with permit requirements.

(2) A person may offer any of the species enumerated in paragraph (1) of this subsection to a public zoo, park, or museum for exhibition purposes.

(3) This section shall not apply to federally licensed animal exhibitors; provided, that the Mayor shall retain the authority to restrict the movement of any prohibited animal into the District and the conditions under which those movements are made.

(4) The Mayor may allow a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, licensed veterinarian, or licensed animal shelter to maintain an animal prohibited in this subsection for treatment or pending appropriate disposition.

A person shall not display, exhibit, or otherwise move animals in the District as part of a circus, carnival, or other special performance or event, without first obtaining a permit, issued by the Mayor, that governs the care and management of the animals.

Exceptions to this law apply for special events and educational purposes.

Special Event Permit State Guidelines  

To apply to bring an otherwise illegal animal into the District of Columbia, please complete the application below. If you require further assistance call (202) 535-2323.

Applications for the special event permit must be submitted with all supporting documents 30 days before the event date. Applications submitted after the 30-day time window will be automatically denied and the fee will not be refunded.
Contact Phone: 
(877) 672-2174
Contact Fax: 
(202) 727-8471
Contact TTY: 
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm
Service Location: 

Health, Department of

GIS Address: 
2201 Shannon Place SE