Exotic Animal Dealer Decides to Surrender 150 Unique Creatures Amid Allegations

A Michigan man’s experience as an exotic animal dealer has taken a poignant turn.

Zachery Keeler, the owner of Even Keel Exotics LLC, has made a profound decision to surrender almost 150 exotic animals. This courageous step comes after allegations of violating federal laws that ensure the welfare and protection of these unique creatures.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are crucial federal laws that protect the welfare of exotic animals.
Photo: Pexels
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are crucial federal laws that protect the welfare of exotic animals.

The list of exotic animals Keeler is relinquishing reads like a page from a wildlife encyclopedia. Ring-tailed lemurs, kinkajous, wallabies, porcupines, foxes, prairie dogs, and ground squirrels, MLive reports. However, the allegations of violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) prompted Keeler to make a pivotal decision — Surrendering his beloved animals.

The allegations state that Keeler separated a baby ring-tailed lemur, an endangered species, from its mother prematurely, with the intention of allowing public interaction, and tried to sell the animal for $3,500, CBS News reports. This act allegedly violated the ESA, which safeguards the wellbeing of endangered species and their conservation.

The AWA sets standards for the humane care and treatment of animals in captivity, including those used for exhibition or research purposes.
Photo: Pexels
The AWA sets standards for the humane care and treatment of animals in captivity, including those used for exhibition or research purposes.

“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.”

Beyond the ESA violation, the allegations also point towards a violation of the AWA. The core tenets of providing clean water, safe and sanitary conditions, and proper facilities were reportedly not upheld.

The ESA focuses on safeguarding endangered and threatened species, ensuring their conservation and recovery.
Photo: Pexels
The ESA focuses on safeguarding endangered and threatened species, ensuring their conservation and recovery.

The focus now remains on the wellbeing of the surrendered animals. Their lives hang in the balance as they transition to new homes and the care of dedicated organizations.

As we collectively strive to create a world where animals are cherished and respected, let this story inspire us to be more mindful, compassionate, and committed custodians of our fellow creatures. Click below and help us make a difference.

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