An ostrich among more than 100 animals seized from Long Island house


Authorities seized more than 100 animals — including a 6-month-old South American ostrich — from a North Bellmore home during a raid Tuesday night, citing the owner with 30 state and local violations relating to illegal possession of the animals.

Acting on a complaint from the nonprofit Humane Long Island, the Nassau County SPCA led a multi-agency investigative group that was on-site to remove the animals and issue the violations against the suspect, who authorities have not yet identified.

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. The nonprofit also rescued dozens of live quails who the suspect planned to feed to reptiles he kept crammed in his basement, authorities confirmed.

The birds are being fostered by Humane Long Island and will be seen by a veterinarian before many of them, including the ostrich now named “Eddy,” are transported to SkyWatch Bird Rescue in Castle Hayne, North Carolina, the nonprofit confirmed. 

Among the other animals confiscated by state and local authorities during the raid 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, said John Di Leonardo, an anthrozoologist and executive director of Humane Long Island.

“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,” Di Leonardo said. “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,” he added.

The joint investigation began after a fairgoer observed what appeared to be an unlicensed exhibitor exhibiting animals at the Bellmore Street Festival last October.

Photos: Courtesy of Long Island Humane

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