Honolulu Zoo features three cute ferrets

Published On: Mar 07 2014 08:08:44 PM HST   Updated On: Mar 07 2014 08:10:49 PM HST

Ferrets are popular pets in some parts of the mainland, but they are illegal to own in the islands.

Click here to watch Ashley Moser's report.

Here in Hawaii it is a no-no to own ferrets because the furry creatures are a potential threat to our wildlife.

"If it's illegal, it's illegal for a reason," said Assistant Zoo Director Dr. Baird Fleming.

But if you like the pet, there is one place where you can appreciate these cuddly guys – the Honolulu Zoo. Ferrets Bandita, Penelope and Fast Eddie used to be outlaws.

"These ferrets went into the state ag[riculture office]. Actually, they were a confiscation. Someone tried to illegally import them into the state," said Fleming.

One of the smallest members of the weasel family, ferrets were used to keep rats out of grain stores and eventually to hunt rabbits.

"They are very smart. They are very easy to train and they are so slinky," said Fleming. ""This is a domesticated species. Interestingly enough, they've been domesticated for thousands of years."

But trainers say if they were released into the wild they could create harm.

"These guys are carnivores. You know anything that's endemic to the islands would be free game – you know – would be on the menu," said Fleming.

Although it has been fun working with the slinky threesome, the trainers say it came with its challenges.

For example when Penelope arrived at the zoo, trainers noticed she was not responding to tests. They did further exams and found out she was actually born deaf. It was just another hurdle to clear.

"But you know that's what zookeepers do. We're in the business of taking care of animals. We can take it," said Fleming.

Fleming had a warning for those who already own a weasel in Hawaii.

"The best bet is to come clean and declare it to the state ag. We don't want anything happening to our state's wildlife. Even though they are really cute," said Fleming.

People who are caught with a ferret could face up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000.


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