Questions & Answers


What are the state laws regarding ownership, exhibition, and sale of wild animals?

The state of Minnesota has what is considered a partial ban on the private ownership of wild animals. For more information, please refer to MN Statute 346.155: Possessing Regulated Animals. This statute makes the private ownership of wild members of the felidae family, bears, and all non-human primates illegal. However, those who met the statute's criteria, yet had a regulated animal, may have been able to be grandfathered in during 2005. This statute also allows for those grandfathered in to replace their registered regulated animal if he/she dies, but only once.

Wild Paws will be working with legislators and our supporters to help improve the restrictions on this ban, as well as looking at future bill considerations for other Carnivora species and their existing regulations in captivity. Currently, the above statute does not apply to bears possessed by game farms that are licensed under the Game and Fur Farm statute number 97A.105. Like foxes, bears are allowed to be bred in this state for their fur and parts, excluding bear gall bladders. Furthermore, this does not prohibit USDA-licensed exhibitors from using these animals in exploitative manners at circuses, carnivals, rodeos, and fairs. So, while we currently have a partial ban, it is not enough to protect these wild animals, especially with these loopholes in the legal system.

We will also be aligning ourselves with like-minded organizations within the state to support their efforts and push forth bills to ensure the proper management and protection of wild species of Carnivora.

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Does your facility rehabilitate animals?

In our immediate operations we will not be rehabilitating and releasing wild carnivores. Rather, we will be rescuing animals that are determined to be non-releasable into the wild because they:

  1. Are imprinted to humans due to their experience in captivity
  2. Are impaired physically (e.g. amputated leg)
  3. Are subject to legally mandated species release restrictions

We will, though, assist in finding appropriate rehabilitation centers for native Carnivora species.

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What does it mean that the education center will have "experiential" learning?

Wild Paws on-site educational programs will be experiential, meaning students will learn from doing, and then reflecting on these experiences. Students will not come into direct contact with animals; learning experiences will be designed for students to interactively learn about the environment, conservation, animals, and human-animal relationships.

Examples of experiential education include the scientific inquiry method, creative problem solving, experiments, artistic representation, and hands-on experiences.

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What kinds of activities will be available?

Wild Paws will have on-site, standards-based educational programs designed for K-12 students. Wild Paws also plans to have activities, such as gardening, for the whole family! Additionally, we plan to hold community education classes in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.

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What does it mean to be accredited? Who accredits organizations like Wild Paws? And why is it important to be accredited?

Accrediting agencies set forth a high standard of care and also act as an educational resource for its accredited facilities. These agencies also help supporters and donors recognize organizations that are not only meeting these standards, but whose missions and actions demonstrate the level of care and sustainable future for the animals. They only accredit facilities that do not exploit,  breed, trade, or sell their animals.

Upon fulfilling our first few phases of securing property, constructing enclosures, and rescuing animals, we will apply to the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries to become accredited.

Being accredited is important as it demonstrates that an organization meets and/or may exceed the criteria set forth. Some of these criteria include, but are not limited to: training and experience of caretakers, safety practices, caging standards, emergency plans, and animal management protocols. The standards for these criteria are constantly evolving in parallel with the industry’s better understanding of what it means to provide the best care to the respective species. By becoming accredited, we are hoping to not only meet and exceed the requirements set forth by accrediting agencies, but to become a leader in this community. It is our goal to be known and respected for providing the highest level of care to our residents.

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Do you have a facility yet?

While we currently do not have a facility, we are actively looking for suitable property. Our organization has developed parameters that include the minimum number of acres, topography considerations, proximity to the Twin Cities, zoning requirements, cost, and surrounding structures. We are hoping to find the perfect location in the near future. While we are searching for appropriate land we are looking to launch our organization and begin raising funds to help purchase the property when it becomes available. Read more about our search.

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When will you start rescuing animals?

It is very important that we set up a strong infrastructure prior to acquiring animals. Some of our considerations prior to rescue include ensuring our sustainability as an organization, finding suitable land to build animal enclosures of appropriate size for each animal, and constructing safe structures to contain the residents while providing an enriching environment to maintain their well-being. Wild Paws will be accomplishing these goals through the phases projected in our strategic plan.

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How is your organization funded?

Our funding comes from public contributions, member support, corporate gift-matching, sponsorships, and in-kind donations. We value the support of all our donors, and every donation is very much appreciated. You can visit our Donate page to make a gift.

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I live far away, how can I help?

We welcome volunteers from any locale! We always have opportunities for research, marketing, art design, and administrative support. Please send an email to contact@wildpaws.org to learn more or fill out our volunteer application!

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