MONROE COUNTY, Mich. (FOX 2) - Nearly 150 animals will be surrendered by a Monroe County exotic animal dealer after authorities say he violated endangered species and welfare acts.
According to the Department of Justice, Zachery Keeler, who was doing business as Even Keel Exotics LLC, will surrender numerous species of animals, including ring-tailed lemurs, kinkajous, wallabies, porcupines, foxes, prairie dogs, and ground squirrels.
Keeler is accused of violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Authorities say Keeler separated a baby ring-tailed lemur, which is an endangered species, from its mother prematurely. He allegedly allowed the public to interact with the baby lemur and then tried to sell it for $3,500.
Photo of a baby ring-tailed lemur used to promote Even Keel Exotics. (Photo: DOJ)
According to the DOJ, he also allegedly did not provide adequate food, water, and safe, sanitary facilities for the animals in his care.
He also is accused of threatening the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspectors who visited his property with trespassing claims. These inspectors were at the property to check on the welfare of the animals.
"The Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act are important tools in protecting our most vulnerable species," said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Even Keel Exotics violated requirements for minimum care of the animals in its possession, failed to provide required access to inspectors and illegally harmed a baby lemur, a protected endangered species."
All animals were removed from Keeler. He has also agreed to never buy, sell or otherwise engage in commerce related to animals regulated under AWA, and to not apply for AWA licensing or registration.