Frequently Asked Questions

1 – What is the difference between wild, exotic, and domestic animal?
I – Wild Animals are all those animals belonging to native, migratory, or any other species, whether aquatic or terrestrial, whose life (or part of it) is spent within the Brazilian territorial limits, or within its territorial waters;

II – Exotic Animals are all those animals whose geographical distribution does not include the Brazilian national territory. Species or subspecies introduced by the man, including domestic ones, that become wild are considered exotic species. Other exotic species are those introduced outside the Brazilian borderline, or territorial waters, and enter the Brazilian national territory; III – Domestic animals are all those animals that have been tamed through traditional and systemized handling and breeding methods and also whose biological and behavioral characteristics are in strict dependence on men. They can even have different aspects from those of the wild species they have originated.

2 – Is it a crime to keep a wild animal in captivity?
It depends on the animal’s origin. If the animal has a legal origin such as commercial breeding-grounds or a breeder duly authorized by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources – Ibama, or if the person had received the animal in custody from Ibama, the Forest Police, or through judicial decision, it is not considered a crime. It will be considered a crime if the legal origin of the animal cannot be proved. In anyway, even if the animal had not been purchased from a trafficker, the maintenance of this animal would, in other words, be regarded as connivance with crime, or with animal poaching from nature.

3 – Can I legalize a wild animal?
Legalize is such a complicated word for it means turning something illegal into something legal. The problem is that legalizing an animal means that all other animals should be legalized, and only under a new legislation this could be done. Ibama would be the agency entitled to do so but a lot of financial and human resources would be required. For example, people who had a parrot at home before the Fauna Protection Law (Law 5,197/67) became effective, and whose maintenance can be attested, could be entitled to keep the animal. However, the case requires analysis.

4 – How can I legally possess a wild animal?
It is necessary to purchase the animal from a legal source, that is, from duly legalized commercial breeding-grounds. An invoice issued by the trader or the breeding-ground shall bear the Ibama registration number, the species name (both popular and scientific), and the identification of the commercialized specimen (ring or microchip).

5 – What should I do in case I find someone selling a wild animal?
Firstly, do not purchase the animal. Following, call out the authorities. If it’s in a fair or traffic warehouse, report the situation and provide as many information as possible (local, date, time, circumstance, etc). If it’s in a road, do not purchase the animal and reprimand the seller by telling him this is an illegal activity and that if he is caught doing so he will be punished by Law and the animal will be seized.

6 – What are the risks in keeping a wild animal in captivity?
All animals, whether wild or domestic, may carry communicable diseases to man such as salmonellosis, ornithosis, and toxoplasmosis, among others. A vet shall clear up questions on such diseases and how they are transmitted.

7 – Which animals of the Brazilian fauna can be legally sold? Is there any restriction if the animal is endangered?
In theory, all animals producing consumer goods (meat, leather, skin, feathers, etc.), or kept as ornaments and pets could be legally sold since authorized by the surveillance agency – Ibama in this case. How to obtain this authorization? Through the animal’s legal and certified origin i.e., through duly regulated and registered commercial breeding-grounds. For example: parrots; macaws; saffron finches; greater large-biled seed-finches; lesser seed-finches; sun parakeets; tortoises; emus; capybaras; collared peccaries; white-lipped peccaries; deers; turtles; alligators; butterflies; and others. However, there are critically endangered animals living in nature and listed in the Ibama official list of endangered animals. In this case, trade can only be possible through the maintenance of considerable stocks of the species in captivity, which would guarantee the species’ self-sustainability through its F2 generation (the offspring of certified captivity-born animals). Neither female nor male breeders can be taken from nature to form stocks whatsoever – in such case, captive animals already registered in Ibama should be used. Specimens destined to the international market and listed in both the Ibama list of endangered species (in the case of Brazil) and in Cites Annex I (the world list of endangered fauna) can only be traded through breeding grounds registered in Ibama (in the case of Brazil) or in Cites Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland. Refer to Cites definition.

8 – What is Cites?
Established in 1973, Cites is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Brazil is signatory to this 173-country Convention since 1975. Cite’s purpose is to establish cooperation among nations in order to prevent the animal trade from threatening animal species with extinction. The signatory parties control this trade through licenses and certificates that guarantee that the species being traded have legal origin and are monitored by both the producer countries and the consumers of their products.

9 – Can Brazilian animals be sold abroad?
Yes, provided that all Ibama and Cites requirements are fulfilled, when pertinent. However, an exportation license issued by Ibama is required.

10 – What are the criteria used by the Brazilian government to control animals sent abroad?
For commercial purposes, the animals shall come from breeding-grounds registered in Ibama, or in the Cites Secretariat, when pertinent. For scientific purposes, and conservationist research, animals shall come from captivity sites registered in Ibama (zoos, and scientific and conservationist breeding-grounds) or, when collected in nature, a capture license (issued by Ibama upon the presentation of a research project justifying the capture) is required. All animal exportation shall be justified, documented and have a license issued by Ibama. In some specific cases such as endangered live animals, Ibama requires to the foreign importer an agreement establishing that animals remain a property of the Brazilian government, as well as its descendants. This agreement is signed among the exporting Brazilian institution, the foreign importer institution and Ibama.

11 – When finding Brazilian animals abroad can Ibama repatriate them?
It is possible if the animal is found to have been illegally sent abroad. However, repatriation is a long-lasting process and depends, almost exclusively, on the goodwill of Cites signatory countries and on the Brazilian embassies in these countries.

12 – If I find an animal being sold abroad, what can I do to know if it’s a trafficking product? If so, I want to report it to the authorities. What should I do?
You should verify with the seller, expositor, or transporter, the legal purchasing or selling document that authorize the animal transportation and import. In case you’re in doubt, consult Cites’ local administrative authority.

Answers provided by:
Francisco de Assis Neo, Biologist/Ibama

Scroll to top