More than 100 exotic animals confiscated from North Bellmore basement and backyard

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, January 25, 2024
More than 100 exotic animals rescued from Bellmore home
The exotic animals were being kept in the man's basement and backyard.

NORTH BELLMORE, Long Island (WABC) -- A man on Long Island is accused of hoarding more than 100 exotic animals inside his basement and backyard in what officials are calling a black market wildlife operation.

A fairgoer reported the man after they saw him apparently exhibiting the animals at the Bellmore Street Festival this past October.

Humane Long Island

Humane Long Island issued the complaint with the Nassau County SPCA and the multi-agency investigation took custody of several dozen animals.

Among those confiscated were a Lesser Rhea, also known as a South America Ostrich, two peafowl, dozens of chickens, domestic ducks and geese, plus an endangered Tiger Salamander, Giant African Snail, North American Opossum, two prairie dogs, an Asian Water Monitor, a Savannah monitor, a Sulcata tortoise, several degus, and many other snakes and turtles.

Humane Long Island

"The illicit wildlife trade is one of the largest sources of criminal earnings, behind only arms smuggling and drug trafficking. But the animals pay the price," said John Di Leonardo, anthrozoologist and Executive Director of Humane Long Island. "Hoarding giant birds, prairie dogs, and endangered species in a cramped basement or backyard shed is cruel, and keeping them in cages next to their natural predators can cause them extreme stress. Simply speaking, wild animals are not pets."

Simply speaking, wild animals are not pets.
John Di Leonardo, Humane Long Island
Humane Long Island

Humane Long Island took custody of many of the animals and said that the Rhea will be transported to SkyWatch Bird Rescue in Castle Hayne, North Carolina.

They said the live quails were apparently being kept to be fed to the larger reptiles. They are also being fostered and eventually sent to the bird rescue.

Humane Long Island

The organization said it is important that if people see something, they should say something. In this case, they might not have discovered the animals were in peril for much longer, if ever, without the help of a person reporting the man.

Just last week, Humane Long Island removed nearly 100 animals, including three cows, 10 freezing piglets, a dozen waterfowl, and dozens of sick and injured chickens, sheep, goats, and a bunny from an unlicensed slaughterhouse in Riverhead.

The man, who was not identified, was cited for 30 state and local violations.

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