Milton man wants to open zoo at his home - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Milton man wants to open zoo at his home

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MILTON, GA (CBS46) -

Dean Riopelle got his first lemur 18 years ago and has been buying exotic animals ever since.  He now wants to turn his Milton home into an official zoo.

"If anybody would spend 20 minutes or an hour with them, they would see they have a little more personality than most other animals," said Riopelle.  "A little more intelligence than most other animals, and they're easier to love at least for us than most other animals."

City officials said no one has complained about the animals on Riopelle's property but they admit the city has no guidelines on the books.

Milton City Council Member Matt Kunz said to his knowledge, Riopelle is not breaking any state or federal laws.

"As it was, we really didn't have a rule for exotic animals when it came to the city, so it was really a ground-up approach to find out how do we do this," Kunz told CBS Atlanta News.

City leaders said they are now reviewing the issue and hope to draw up some guidelines on exotic animals sometime early next year.

"The question is are you going to have Siberian tigers or are you going to have monkeys?" said Kunz.

Ropielle said he enjoys raising the animals and would like his home to officially become a zoo.

"It's a hobby," said Ropielle.  "It's enrichening.  It's fun.  I like seeing other people interacting with them too and how they react.  The vast majority say, 'I've never touched a monkey before.'"  

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