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Exotic animal owner receives huge fine after creatures found in squalid conditions

Worcester Editorial 18th Nov, 2013 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

THE OWNER of an exotic animal company has been fined more than £100,000 after creatures including meerkats, monkeys and an armadillo were found living in squalid and squashed conditions.

Stephen Rowlands, of Sunnydale, Dunhampton in Worcestershire runs Tropical Inc, which takes a range of exotic pets around the country to for displays at schools and other groups, and has even been featured on television shows.

He pleaded guilty to 34 offences under the Animal Welfare Act relating to 70 exotic animals and three CITES offences at Worcester Magistrates Court last Thursday (November 14).

The 32-year-old was made to pay £6,000 in legal costs and £100,000 in boarding costs, given a 12 weeks custodial sentence for each charge, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work.

Nearly 70 exotic animals were rescued in January from the home after concerns had been raised about their welfare.

The animals included meerkats, parrots, monkeys, turtles, owls, snakes and an armadillo. They were found living in four filthy and cramped rooms, covered with faeces and without electricity, light and food.

RSPCA Inspector Lee Hopgood said: “This was a serious case of animal neglect involving over 70 exotic animals.

“Exotic pets have great appeal because they are so unusual and seen as quirky, but in many cases they are wild animals living in captivity and have incredibly specialised needs.

“In this case, we found all manner of animals squashed into corners and living in completely inappropriate ways. It was heartbreaking to see.

“Rowlands makes a living through animal shows, displays and animal entertainment.

“Anyone who owns, trains, works with or earns their living from animals has a duty of care to ensure the animals’ needs are met and that they do not suffer, sadly in this case that did not happen.”

The animals confiscated have now been placed into RSPCA care and the organisation is working with experts to re-home them.

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