Pet nutria confiscated from its owners after finding internet fame is being moved to the Baton Rouge Zoo

BATON ROUGE — Neuty the nutria, an unusual pet whose social media fame has exploded in the past week amid numerous news outlet profiles in the New Orleans area, has been removed from his home and will be moved to the Baton Rouge Zoo.

Neuty lived with a family in Jefferson Parish for years. Dylan Lacoste, whose family owns Dennis’ Seafood in Metairie, told WWL-TV the large rodent has been in his family since they found him in December 2020.

“He eats healthier than me,” Dylan Lacoste told the broadcaster. “He is good. He’s really good. He’s like a dog.”

However, in a news release Thursday, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced that Neuty had been confiscated, noting that owning a coypu — an invasive species — is illegal in Louisiana. The department added that it learned about the illegal pet after multiple news stories about Neuty were released on Wednesday.

The department said it was making arrangements for the Baton Rouge zoo to kidnap Neuty before confiscating him from his owners on Thursday.

Read the full statement from the Department for Wildlife and Fisheries below.

A family’s pet nutria, which was removed from a couple’s New Orleans home on Thursday (March 16), will be relocated to the Baton Rouge Zoo and be part of an educational exhibit, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced on known Thursday.

It is illegal to keep any wild animal as a pet, especially a nutria, which is an invasive species and could be a source of health problems.

LDWF discovered the existence of the pet nutria after stories about the animal appeared in the New Orleans-area media this week. After the status was released, the department decided it should be removed. The department also contacted the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission, which operates the Baton Rouge Zoo, to find a way to save the animal.

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Officials at the BREC and the zoo agreed Thursday to adopt the animal.

After those arrangements were finalized, LDWF agents contacted the owners and informed them that the animal needed to be removed and that arrangements had been made with the BR Zoo. In most cases, the animal would have been released back into the wild. However, LDWF biologists and zoo officials said that because the animal has been habituated to humans, it could not survive in the wild.

In Louisiana, nutria are known to cause severe damage to wetlands, agricultural crops, and structural foundations, including roads and levees. They can also threaten human health and safety and serve as a reservoir for various diseases.

It is illegal in Louisiana by law to possess injured or orphaned mammals without an LDWF rehabilitation permit, even if there are plans to release them. Owning wild animals as pets or for the pet trade is illegal. There is no permit for this activity and no permit will be issued for it.

In a statement released Thursday, zoo officials said they “plan to add the nutria to our animal family after a brief stay in a rehabilitation facility… The nutria will join our Ambassador Animal Program.”

“The zoo has another male nutria that is already part of the Ambassador animal program, so eventually the two will be acclimated and brought together. As social animals, the coypu should feel comfortable and enjoy this encounter with another animal of the same species.

“The zoo’s professional staff will look after the nutria as they would any other animal in their expert care and look forward to welcoming a new member to the zoo animal family.”

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LDWF appreciates the owner’s affection for the animal and understanding of the rules regarding its removal. LDWF discourages the public from keeping wild animals as pets.