Washington County

Exotic animal nonprofit may lose home in Hillsboro

HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) -- The fate of a controversial exotic animal nonprofit in Hillsboro could be decided on Tuesday by the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

A Walk on the Wild Side, which houses all sorts of wild animals, has drawn both criticism and praise for its practices.

According to the nonprofit, they're an "animal rescue" and "preservation establishment." They're home to more than 170 animals from 84 different species -- but their future is unclear as the county is considering an exotic animals ban after complaints from residents.

"The concern is the health and welfare of the animals as well as the public health in residents," said Marni Kuyl, director of Health and Human Services in Washington County.

According to Kuyl, A Walk on the Wild Side is the only known nonprofit housing exotic animals in Washington County.

"What we know is that these animals are not in their natural environment," Kuyl said. "There's been a lot of concerns reported, but really what it did was highlight there may be a hole in our county ordinance and we really need to look holistically at how do we protect the health and safety of our residents."

A Walk on the Wild Side has previously run into trouble staying in one place.

The organization was pushed out of Canby for violating zoning and building codes. Most recently, they were cited in Washington County for violating land use rules since the county says property is zoned exclusively for farm use. It was most recently cited on March 29, 2018.

Neighbors have also voiced their frustrations.

"Complaints such as hearing roaring, complaints about the welfare and safety of the animals and how they're cared for -- we've had concerns/questions about what would happen if the animals escaped," Kuyl said.

The board will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. to look over the exotic animals ban. The commissioners could go ahead with it, send it back with amendments or make no decision at all.

KOIN 6 News reached out to the owners for a comment, but said they wanted to wait until Tuesday to offer their thoughts.


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