Animals’ Angels investigators once again returned to this large exotic animal auction that attracts visitors from all over the country. During the three-day event, animals such as exotic birds, foxes, porcupines, elk, water buffalo, camels, zebras, snakes and tortoises are sold to the highest bidder. Animals’ Angels has visited the auction several times in the past few years and has documented and exposed the poor conditions at the sale. The main areas of concern were lack of water, cardboard boxes used to hold animals, insufficient airholes, overcrowded cages, poor handling as well as injured animals allowed to be consigned. Urging management for improvement, Animals’ Angels has kept a close eye on the developments at this sale.
Visiting the event again in September, investigators immediately noticed that the sale flyer had been changed and now required sellers to comply with a list of requirements. Among those were access to food & water inside all cages, no cardboard boxes, sturdy covered flooring and no overcrowding of animals. Additionally, sellers were notified that no animals in poor health or suffering from severe stress or injury would be accepted. Entering the bird sale area (9/13/18), investigators were able to confirm that indeed no more cardboard boxes were used to hold animals. All cages had little containers with food and water and sturdy flooring. Several individuals carrying water cans were spotted, who checked the water containers inside the cages and filled those low on water. No damaged or dented cages were found, and no injured or dead birds were detected. However, several of the cages were still overcrowded, giving the birds no room to move around. Additionally, it was noted the next day that several of the cages were again out of water and food.
All the larger animals observed were in ok condition. One of the zebras had a cut above his left eye. An older camel seemed to be stressed to be confined to a pen by himself and anxiously kept pacing back and forth. The foxes and porcupines were kept in cages in a locked pen, not accessible to auction visitors. The foxes appeared very scared and timid. The tortoises remained a concern: Several were observed in large plastic tubes, unable to extend their head and with only limited air holes available.
Overall, we are pleased to see that auction management has taken our criticism seriously and has started to implement the suggested improvements. However, there is still room for improvement, such as the better surveillance of food/water containers. Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor the sale and share the most recent observations/shortcomings with management.