Investigators attended the bi-annual exotic auction in Holmes County, OH. The sale is one of the largest in the country and attracts buyers & sellers from numerous states. The auction premises were fenced and admission was charged to attend the sale. Inside, the different animals were kept in multiple barn and heated trailers. Amish workers kept a close eye on all the visitors, watching for cameras and other “suspicious” behavior. At the largest barn, thousands of exotic birds, swans, chicken, pheasants and quails were kept. The animals were stacked on top of each other, with hundreds of cages piled everywhere. All cages had small containers for food and water (apparently a requirement by auction management), but many of them were empty or turned over. No one from the auction was observed checking the availability of food/water. Several cages appeared very overcrowded, some injured birds were noted.
Reptiles, tortoises, insects and small exotic mammals were kept in heated trailers. The trailers were extremely crowded with visitors and the boxes containing animals on the trailer floor were being kicked a lot. Tortoises were observed in plastic boxes with no or limited air holes. All the exotic mammals were being cared for by their owners, who were observed feeding and watering their animals. The larger animals such as bison, water buffalo, camels and deer were kept in the main barn of the auction. All of them had access to food and water. No injuries were observed. No large cats, bears, monkeys, wolves or foxes were present at the sale. While improvements were noted compared to last year’s sale, the auction still needs to pay closer attention to the birds and ensure proper housing and continuous access to food and water. Animals’ Angels will share these findings with auction management.