Update: WWL is now reporting that Neuty the Nutria will be allowed to stay with the Lacostes. The family have applied for a permit to keep Neuty, and the process is ongoing but this is great news for the Lacostes and those who showed their support on social media during their drama which unfolded earlier this week.
Original story: A Louisiana nutria rat won the hearts of thousands earlier this week, but now the motherless rodent’s family is wiping tears over the kidnapping of their beloved pet.
“Neuty” lived in the canal at West Esplanade Avenue as a wild nutria rat, but one day while crossing a nearby road, the baby rodent was injured. At the time, Neuty was just a palm-sized nutria; but fortunately, a neighboring family was able to take him in and take care of him.
The Lacoste family rescued Neuty in 2020, and almost instantly the nutria became part of their family.
Denny and Myra Lacoste took Neuty to their home in Bucktown and it didn’t take long for the nutria rat to become a local celebrity.
WWL-TV did a story about the adorable nutria rat and it didn’t take long for the beloved nutria rat to go viral.
Neuty became an instant internet celebrity, capturing the attention and hearts of people all over Louisiana and beyond.
Unfortunately, Neuty’s story also caught the attention of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which declares it illegal to possess nutria.
The smiles and feel-good vibes from all the love Neuty was getting from his internet fame quickly turned to tears when the Lacostes had their pet snatched by LDWF.
LDWF released a statement, saying arrangements have been made for the Baton Rouge Zoo to accept Neuty.
A family’s nutria is to be removed from a New Orleans couple’s home and transferred to the Baton Rouge Zoo to be part of an educational exhibit, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced Thursday. Louisiana (LDWF).
It is illegal to keep any wild animal as a pet, especially a nutria, which is an invasive species and could cause health problems.
LDWF discovered the existence of the pet nutria after stories about the animal appeared this week in the New Orleans area media. Once the statute was made public, the department recommended its withdrawal. The department has also begun communications with the Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission, which operates the Baton Rouge Zoo, to find a way to save the animal.
BREC and zoo officials agreed on Thursday to accept the animal.
Once these arrangements were completed, LDWF officers contacted the owners and told them the animal would be removed and arrangements had been made with BR Zoo. In most cases, the animal would be returned to the wild. However, LDWF biologists and zoo officials said that since the animal was habituated to humans, it could not survive in the wild.
Nutria are well known in Louisiana to cause extensive 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 several diseases.
It is illegal in Louisiana to possess injured or orphaned mammals without an LDWF rehabilitation permit, even if there are plans to release them. It is illegal to own wild animals as pets or for the pet trade. There is no permit for this activity, and no permit will be issued for it.
In a statement on Thursday, zoo officials said it “plans to integrate the nutria into our animal family after a short stint at a rehabilitation center… The nutria will join our animal ambassador program.
“The zoo has another male nutria who is already part of the animal ambassador program, so the two will eventually be acclimatized and reunited. As social animals, nutria need to be comfortable and enjoy this exposure at a other animal of the same species.
“The professional zoo staff will care for the nutria as they would any other animal in their care and look forward to welcoming a new member to the zoo animal family.”
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.
Although the Lacostes received a ticket for “possession of a wild quadruped without a permit”, when they showed up to catch the rodent, Neuty was not at home.
Footage captured by photographer Chris Granger showed the heartbreaking moment the Lacoste family met with officials from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
There was a lot of backlash against the LDWF’s decision on social media, as many said they felt Neuty was receiving the best care from the Lacoste family who provided a loving home and cared for the big rodent in recent years. .
Someone even started a GoFundMe that has garnered over 5,000 signatures at the time of this post.
While we don’t know what will become of Neuty and his adoptive family, it’s a story we’ll follow as it develops.