TEMPERANCE, Mich. (WLNS) — A Monroe County animal dealer must surrender nearly 150 animals, following allegations he violated laws protecting exotic animals.
As part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Zachery Keeler of Even Keel Exotics will surrender about 150 animals, including ring-tailed lemurs, kinkajous, wallabies, porcupines, foxes, prairie dogs and ground squirrels.
A consent decree with Keeler was entered in federal court, to resolve allegations in a complaint that Keeler violated the Endangered Species Act and Animal Welfare Act, the DOJ said Monday.
Keeler has also agreed to never buy, sell or engage in commerce related to animals that are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act, and to not apply for its licensing or registration.
The complaint alleges that Keeler unlawfully and prematurely separated a baby ring-tailed lemur, an endangered species, from its mother to interact with the public, and then tried to sell the baby lemur for $3,500.
He also allegedly violated the Animal Welfare Act by failing to provide necessary potable water, safe and sanitary conditions, or access to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which ensures animals’ wellbeing.
“The Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act are important tools in protecting our most vulnerable species,” said Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General 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.”
The DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Wildlife & Marine Resources Section filed the complaint and lodged the consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.