July 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Police seize exotic animals in Warren

Warren — At first police couldn’t believe it when a resident called and said an aardvark was grazing on a neighbor’s lawn.

But what police actually found, according to the Detroit Zoo, were two white-nosed coatis, also known as hog-nosed raccoons.

Whatever species they were, they were definitely not supposed to be there.

“We responded thinking that the odds ... were pretty slim, but they turned out to be credible,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Louis Galasso.

The exotic animals, which are native to South America, were among 30 animals being kept as pets inside a garage on Frazho Road.

The rescued animals, which included two ring-tailed lemurs, three fennec foxes, a screech owl, several rabbits, pigeons and roosters, were taken to the Detroit Zoo for treatment and care. The animals appeared to be in good shape, but the zoo’s veterinary staff is still evaluating their condition.

“The conditions these animals were being kept in were deplorable,” Elizabeth Arbaugh, the Detroit Zoological Society’s curator of mammals, said in a statement. “There could be some possible health issues; we’ll know more after a complete evaluation.”

The home in the 5200 block of Frazho was owned by a 32-year-old man and his wife, Galasso said.

“Both were very cooperative. The man was at work and immediately returned home when we contacted him,” said Galasso. “He was surprised to learn that exotic animals couldn’t be raised in the city of Warren.”

Although the animals appeared healthy, their living conditions were not, police say.

“The owner said he cleaned up the area once a week and today was the day he was supposed to clean,” Galasso said.

Police contacted the Department of Natural Resources and the Detroit Zoo about the animals.

“We wanted to see if they could aid us in containing these animals and quarantine them in case they had any diseases that could affect other animals or humans,” Galasso said.

“They took custody of all the animals.”

Galasso said they will seek charges against the homeowner for having dangerous and wild animals as well as for animal cruelty. Each citation carries a 90-day jail sentence or $500 fine. Galasso said the city attorney would present the case to the prosecutor’s office to determine if any further action is warranted.

“One thing I’ve learned is that there’s never a dull moment in this town,” Galasso said.

tgreenwood@detroitnews.com
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