Feb 26, 2024 - News

Saffron the Opossum was confiscated, and New Orleans artist wants him back

Photo shows a opossum in a candy corn sweater.

Saffron likes to wear sweaters. Photo: Courtesy of Bill Voiles

A New Orleans man is petitioning the state to keep his pet opossum in a fight reminiscent of Neuty the Nutria's plight last year.

Driving the news: Bill Voiles tells Axios he has applied for an exhibitor permit from the state so he can get Saffron, his 1-year-old opossum, returned to him.

  • The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries confiscated Saffron over Mardi Gras amid a crackdown on exotic animals in the French Quarter. They also confiscated five snakes.

The big picture: Some street performers have exotic animals like snakes and birds and charge people to take pictures with them.

  • Voiles said tourists took pictures with Saffron, but he thought of the opossum like a child.
  • He says he used the interactions to educate people about opossums and their benefits.

Catch up quick: Voiles said he found baby Saffron a year ago clinging to his dead mother, who had been run over in the St. Claude area.

  • Saffron "barely had one eye open," he said, and needed bottle-feeding every two to three hours.
  • Saffron rode in Voiles' tricycle with his dogs and slept in his house.
  • "Usually when I wake up in the morning, he's right next to me, laying belly up," Voiles tells Axios.

Zoom out: Voiles' plight is already getting rallying cries of "Save Saffron" and making headlines, like this one from the New York Times.

  • There's also a Change.org petition with 9,800+ signatures from people asking to "Save Saffron."
  • It's similar to what happened with Neuty last year, which ultimately led to the nutria being allowed to stay with his Bucktown family.

Where's Saffron? Taylor Brazan, LDWF's communications director, declined to comment to Axios, citing the pending legal matter.

  • Voiles said he was told Saffron is with a rehabber and is safe but doesn't have any more specifics.

What's next: Voiles' friends are working to put together a fundraiser for him and Saffron.

  • He's also hoping to hear back from the state about other requirements he needs to legally own Saffron.
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