OC Council Approves Exotic Animal Request

OCEAN CITY — Red kangaroos, two-towed sloths, bearded dragons and other exotic animals will soon be seen around Ocean City after resort officials approved a special permit request to exhibit non-domesticated animals in certain places under certain conditions.

The Mayor and Council had before them last Monday a special permit request from the Barn Hill Preserve in Delaware to allow for the exhibition of exotic animals as a visitor attraction at certain businesses and other special events. Town officials passed an ordinance years ago making it unlawful to harbor certain exotic animals within city limits including, for example, snakes and alligators, without a special permit largely from a public safety aspect and the safety of first-responders that might report to an incident.

Since 2017, the Mayor and Council have approved the special permit request for Barn Hill to exhibit exotic non-domesticated animals at some businesses and other special events. Barn Hill’s list of exotic animals is extensive, but includes such creatures as red kangaroos, Eurasian lynx kittens, bearded dragons, hedgehogs, armadillos and blue-tongue skinks, for example.

The animals would be brought into the resort for display at certain businesses partnering with Barn Hill and returned to the preserve in Delaware after the shows, according to a letter to the Mayor and Council from Barn Hill Preserve President Joshua Mueller.

“Barn Hill Preserve’s employees have extensive training and experience with all of the animals that are shown to the public,” the letter reads. “When we visit a business, we will be bringing two to three animals at a time.”

Mueller explained the exotic animals will only be in Ocean City at the appointed times and places.

“None of these animals will be housed in Ocean City at any time,” the letter reads. “We only intend to bring them into the city on select dates and times, and then return them back to their housed place in Delaware.”

The intent is to introduce residents and tourists to animals they otherwise might never get to see up close and personal.

“Our goal is to educate the community on all of the wildlife in the world,” the letter reads. “We try to make it fun and exciting by allowing people to see up close some of our animals that are generally only seen in the wild or at zoos.”

In the letter, Mueller said the exotic animal displays provide another amenity for guests.

“We want to help our local businesses during these tough times and plan on abiding by all state and local regulations,” the letter reads. “Our hopes are to continue to bring tourists into the town and offering safe and fun activities for them.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.