Hundreds of hedgehogs, kangaroo, giant rabbits seized from Romulus strip mall

Evan James Carter
The Detroit News
The front of the store property at 31258 Ecorse Road in Romulus where police and animal control are clearing out hundreds of animals, including some exotic ones.

Romulus — Hundreds of animals, including kangaroo and hedgehogs, were seized in a raid Thursday, police said.

Romulus police and animal control confiscated Flemish giant rabbits, iguanas, kangaroos, peacock, tortoise and several hundred hedgehogs from a strip mall location on Ecorse, just east of Merriman. 

A kangaroo was among the animals seized by Romulus police Thursday.

The animals are safe and were taken to undisclosed locations, said Romulus police detective Kelly Fragodt. She said police weren't releasing details about where the animals have been relocated out of concern for their safety and the safety of those who took in the animals.

Fragodt said Romulus police received a tip about the exotic animals being kept at the property, which led to the raid at the property Thursday morning. 

Fragodt said it was illegal to own exotic animals in Romulus. Criminal charges were being pursued, she said. No one was at the property during the execution of the search warrant. 

Romulus police also seized some hedgehogs at the property.

On Friday, police said in a Facebook post that there were over 300 hedgehogs, six Flemish giant rabbits, three large iguanas, two kangaroos, a peacock, a silver fox, and a 16-foot, 200-pound Reticulated Python at the property. Officials said there was also an unsubstantiated report of a baboon, but they didn’t find one.

They also said they have identified the individual believed to be "the bootleg zookeeper and are looking to have a word with him."

On Thursday, an orange notice that read it was illegal to occupy the building without a certificate of occupancy from the city was pinned to the front door at the site.

A notice warns against occupancy at 31258 Ecorse Road in Romulus without a certificate from the city.

Ray Sylejmani, the owner of Sunny's Coney Island located in the same strip mall as the property with the animals, said he was in his restaurant when law enforcement began arriving to seized the animals.

Police and animal control were on the scene from about 8 or 9 a.m. Thursday until 8:45 p.m.

"We never see them go in through the front door (of the property), so I don't know," Sylejmani said of the people who handled the animals.