Friday, 9 March 2018

36 exotic animals disappear from Florida wildlife sanctuary after fake 'help yourself' ad



Owners fear for health of lemurs, marmosets, monkeys, birds and tortoises removed from Miami site in incident police are treating as theft

Richard Luscombe in Miami
Mon 5 Mar 2018 21.31 GMTFirst published on Mon 5 Mar 2018 20.48 GMT

The advertisement on Craigslist was specific: “Free exotic animals. We’re a sanctuary going out of business. Go around back and help yourself.”

Early on Sunday morning, somebody did just that, driving a truck up to the rear gate of the We Care Wildlife Sanctuary in Miami and loading up seven ring-tailed lemurs, five marmosets, four monkeys, seven birds and 13 tortoises.

The internet posting, however, was a fake. Now the sanctuary owners want their animals back, fearing they could die in days without the specialist care they need.

“We’ve been violated,” a sanctuary volunteer, Cindy Robert, said of the disappearance of the valuable animals, which is being treated by the Miami-Dade police department as a theft.

“I don’t think these animals are going to be taken care of. The stress alone could give some of them heart attacks.”

Detectives are looking into the theory that the entire episode was carefully planned, targeting those animals that would bring in the best return from dealers or collectors who trade in exotic species.

 “They took the dollar animals. They knew exactly what they wanted,” said Robert, adding that the combined value of the lost animals would run to “thousands” of dollars.


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