Exotic zoo owner cleared on charges, but he says 200 animals taken in raid have died

A monkey on his leash - as opposed to on his back - is vindication for Javon Stacks.

Last Thursday a judge dismissed three felony animal cruelty charges against the exotic zoo owner.

"God bless the judge (who) found me not guilty, he knew I was innocent. he said they had did not have proof of one thing that I did," Stacks said. "I knew I was innocent. all my friends, my supporters knew I was innocent."

But Romulus police thought otherwise. Cops and Animal Control raided Stacks' storefront in August of 2019, seizing hundreds of his animals and accusing him of being a "bootleg" zookeeper.

The judge ordered that those animals be returned to Stacks. But there's one problem: more than 200 died after they were taken from him.

Javon Stacks

"Two hundred and eight animals have died since they seized them from me," he said. "When they came and seized them from my building, my facility, not one of the animals was dead, not one of them was ever sick."

Stacks has operated his exotic zoo for more than a decade -- providing exhibitions and shows throughout the region and exposing inner-city kids like those from the Detroit City Lions Youth Club, to exotic animals, they might otherwise never see up close.

"I just like the snapping turtle and the snake," said student Aries Berry.

"It's good that they can learn about different things in the community," said parent Stephanie Walker. "Different animals because they don't teach it in school anymore."

Exotic zoo owner Javon Stacks

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office says there are two lingering misdemeanor charges against Stacks, but he's adamant those too will be thrown out.

"All of this could have been avoided had the detective in charge that raided my building, if she would've done a thorough investigation before she raided my building," Stacks said. "She wouldn't have raided my building. They would have never taken any of my animals. If they did a thorough investigation they would've known I had a license, they would've known my establishment was legal."

Stacks plans to take legal action against the city of Romulus. In the meantime, a pretrial date is set for Dec. 10th for those remaining misdemeanor counts.