Following a complaint by Humane Long Island, the Nassau County SPCA led a multi-agency investigation of a North Bellmore man who had hoarded 100 animals inside his basement and backyard. Federal, state, and local authorities issued the man 30 violations relating to illegal possession of animals.

Humane Long Island took custody of several dozen animals, including a Lesser Rhea—also known as a South American ostrich—two peafowl, and dozens of chickens, domestic ducks and geese. Humane Long Island also took custody of dozens of live quails who the man planned to feed to reptiles he crammed in his basement. The birds are being fostered by Humane Long Island and will be seen by a veterinarian before many—including the Rhea—will be transported to SkyWatch Bird Rescue in Castle Hayne, North Carolina.

Among the other animals confiscated by state and local authorities during the raid in Bellmore were an endangered Tiger Salamander, a Giant African Snail, a North American opossum, two Prairie dogs, an Asian water monitor, a Savannah monitor, a Sulcata tortoise, several Degus, and a variety of other reptiles, including snakes and turtles.

“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.”

Humane Long Island reminds the public that the adage “adopt, don’t shop” applies to all animals and to never to buy any animal from a pet store, at an auction, or online. Humane Long Island also reminds the public to always speak up when they suspect an animal is in trouble. This joint investigation began after a fairgoer observed what appeared to be an unlicensed exhibitor exhibiting animals at the Bellmore Street Festival this past October.