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Class I Wildlife

What is Class I wildlife?

Class I wildlife is a defined list of species that are considered to present a real or potential threat to human safety. Possession of Class I wildlife requires a permit. Due to the nature and habits of Class I species, Class I wildlife may not be possessed as a personal pet. Substantial experience requirements, specific cage requirements, and proof of commercial activity must be met before a permit will be issued.

Species which are designated as Class I are:

Cheetahs (Acinonyx jabatus)

Cougars, panthers (Puma concolor)

Jaguars (Panthera onca)

Leopards (Panthera pardus)

Lions (Panthera leo)

Snow leopards (Panthera uncia)

Tigers (Panthera tigris)

Black caimans (Melanosuchus niger)

Crocodiles (except dwarf and Congo) (family Crocodylidae)

Gavials (family Gavialidae)

Baboons (genus Papaio)

Drills and mandrills (genus Mandrillus)

Gelada baboons (genus Theropithecus)

Chimpanzees (genus Pan)

Gorillas (genus Gorilla)

Orangutans (genus Pongo)





Cape buffalos (Syncerus caffer caffer)

Gaur (Bos gaurus)

Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis)






A permit is required to possess any Class I species. Follow the links below for more information about permitting for different activities:

Requirements for possession of Class I

  • Anyone wishing to possess Class I species must document 1000 hours of experience working with the species they would like to possess or other species in same biological family and Class of wildlife. The experience must span at least one calendar year. The experience documentation must show 1000 hours of practical experience in feeding, handling, care, and husbandry of animals in the same biological family and Class of the animal(s) being requested. Anyone wishing to document their experience hours may use this sample log or any other format (excel sheet, word document, etc.) as long as the description of experience is detailed and the hours are countable, totaling at least 1000 hours.
    • Experience documentation must be submitted per biological family of wildlife requested, except cougars and cheetahs (which are regulated separately on the genus level), crocodilians (which are regulated on the biological order level) and ratites (which are regulated on the biological sub-order level).
  • Anyone wishing to possess Class I species must obtain two letters of reference regarding their experience as described above. One letter must be from a Florida permit holder for the wildlife being applied for (preferably the permit holder overseeing the experience) or a representative of a professional organization or governmental institution, including veterinarians. Both letters must be from individuals with firsthand knowledge of the documented experience and must reference such experience in their letter.

Anyone wishing to possess Class I wildlife must pass a facility and caging inspection before a permit will be issued. More information regarding specific caging requirements is on our Rules and Regulations page.

  • Class I species must be housed on properties which are at least 5 acres (see next tab for exceptions)
  • Class I species must be housed on properties which are either owned or leased by the applicant (see next tab for exceptions).
  • Facilities housing Class I species must contain a “buffer zone” of at least 35 feet between caged wildlife and the facility property line.
  • Facilities housing Class I wildlife must be bound by a fence which is at least 8 feet high (see next tab for exceptions).

The following Class I wildlife is exempt from the facility requirements related to acreage, ownership/lease of the property, buffer zones, and perimeter fencing:

  • Class I carnivores until they reach 25 pounds or 6 months of age, whichever comes first
  • Class I primates until they reach 12 months of age
  • Crocodilians 4 feet in length or less

Any Class I wildlife exempt from meeting the facility requirements must still meet the following:

  • Class I wildlife shall not be possessed in any multi-unit dwellings or on any premises consisting of less than one quarter acre of land area.
  • A fence sufficient to deter entry by the public, which shall be a minimum of five (5) feet in height, shall be present around the premises wherein Class I animals are housed or exercised outdoors.
  • Anyone in possession of Class I wildlife must possess guaranteed financial responsibility in one of the following forms: $10,000 bond, $10,000 paid to FWC in cash or check, $10,000 irrevocable letter of credit, or comprehensive general liability insurance with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million general aggregate.
  • Anyone in possession of Class I mammals must obtain and maintain a USDA license.
  • In order to possess Class I species, the applicant must demonstrate consistent and sustained commercial activity.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact the Captive Wildlife Office.

Phone: (850) 488-6253
Mail: Captive Wildlife Office, 620 S Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399