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Exotic animals seized in RSPCA swoop at Dunhampton
NEARLY 70 exotic animals, including meerkats, monkeys and an armadillo, have been seized as part of a major RSPCA investigation in Dunhampton.
A spokesman for the organisation said inspectors, police officers, animal specialists and a zoo vet attended “an address in Worcestershire” last Thursday morning and removed animals after suspicion of offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
A West Mercia Police spokesman confirmed a warrant had been executed in Dunhampton after 6am that morning and residents told The Shuttle they had seen activity at Sunnydene, where animal education company Tropical Inc was setting up a sanctuary.
Among the animals taken were coatis, genets, an armadillo, owls, parrots, snapping turtles, tortoises, snakes, a porcupine, Harris hawks, meerkats and cotton-top tamarins.
The RSPCA spokesman added: “All of the animals have now been taken to specialist establishments pending the outcome of the investigation”.
A Tropical Inc statement on its facebook site read: “As we had recently received planning permission to build our new education centre, some of the existing buildings had to be demolished in the process of constructing the new premises.
“Some of our animals had been moved from their enclosures to temporary indoor enclosures and the RSPCA have deemed some of these temporary enclosures to be unfit.
“It was never our intention to keep animals in them for any prolonged amount of time.”
It said “extreme wet weather” meant animals had been kept in the temporary enclosures for longer than anticipated.
“We wholeheartedly agree animal welfare is a priority,” the statement added.
The company did not want to add anything when contacted by The Shuttle.
Planning permission was granted to Tropical Inc in August last year by Wychavon District Council to build the animal sanctuary, aimed at educating students and young people about exotic animals, despite some councillors voicing concerns.
The RSPCA said its investigation was “ongoing” and would not comment further.