July 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Exotic animal found in Warren euthanized for rabies check

Royal Oak — An exotic animal found running loose last week in Warren has been euthanized because Detroit Zoo and Macomb County health officials learned it had bitten a man, putting him at risk of rabies.

The male white-nosed coati — a South American mammal — escaped from its cage in a Warren garage July 9. Neighbors saw the mammal and called police.

Authorities who went to the neighborhood found the wayward coati, plus 29 other exotic animals being kept as pets, at a home in the 5200 block of Frazho Road.

The zoo agreed to care for the animals, only to learn that the man had been bitten during the coati’s escape, the zoo said in a news release Thursday.

The man began treatment for rabies, and the Macomb County Health Department ordered that the coati be euthanized so its brain could be tested — the only way to determine if an animal has rabies.

A necropsy done July 11 showed no sign of rabies, the zoo said.

“This is a really sad and unfortunate turn of events,” the zoo’s executive director and CEO, Ron Kagan, said in a statement. “Another animal has paid with its life because people are still allowed to own some exotic animals in the state of Michigan, putting animals — including domestic pets — and humans at risk.”

Of the animals removed from the garage, several are being evaluated by zoo staff, including a second white-nosed coati, two ring-tailed lemurs and three fennec foxes. The exotic animals will remain under quarantine for at least 30 days, the zoo said, with permanent homes to be determined.

“We are going to be spending a lot of time, energy and resources on these animals,” Kagan said. “They haven’t had the proper care — including the health care — they need.”

Several small mammals and birds were given to the Michigan Humane Society.