Police seize exotic animals after escape

The Detroit Zoo said Thursday that it was caring for 30 animals, including lemurs and other exotic species, which were rescued from "deplorable" conditions inside the garage of a suburban Detroit home.
AP Wire
Jul 11, 2014

Police in Warren seized the animals Wednesday after one of the rare mammals was spotted roaming in a neighborhood.

The animals include two ring-tailed lemurs, two white-nosed coatis and three fennec foxes, all considered exotic, the Royal Oak-based zoo said in a statement. In addition, the garage held a number of rabbits and birds. The white-nosed coati is a member of the raccoon family and is found in the southwest U.S., Mexico, Central and South America.

According to the zoo, an animal control officer captured a coati in a Warren neighborhood on Wednesday, leading to the discovery of the other animals in a garage.

"The conditions these animals were being kept in were deplorable," said Elizabeth Arbaugh, the zoo's mammal curator. She said the animals seemed to be in relatively good health, considering the conditions of their confinement. "There could be some possible health issues. We'll know more after a complete evaluation."

Some of the confiscated animals were being kept in quarantine at the zoo's health center, while others were transferred Thursday to the Michigan Humane Society, the zoo said.

The situation is a common one at the zoo, officials said.

"Privately owned exotic animals kept as pets often end up in compromised conditions and in need of rescue," said Director Ron Kagan. He said the zoo has worked in the past to win passage of legislation barring the ownership of some exotic animals in Michigan.

In neighboring Ohio, a law banning ownership of exotic animals took effect in 2012. Lawmakers passed it in response to the mass release of lions, tigers and other exotic animals from a private reserve in Zanesville, Ohio. Authorities shot and killed most of them.

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