RSPCA: Man fined after meerkats, monkeys and an armadillo found

The owner of a touring exotics company has been fined more than £100,000 after animals including meerkats, monkeys and an armadillo were found living in unsuitable conditions at his base in Worcestershire.

Stephen Rowlands, 32, of Sunnydale, Dunhampton in Worcestershire, pleaded guilty to three CITIES offences at Worcester Magistrates Court yesterday (Thursday 15 November 2013). He was made to pay £6,000 in legal costs and £100,000 in boarding costs, given a 12 months custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work.

The case was prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after a joint investigation with the RSPCA. Nearly seventy exotic animals were rescued in January from Tropics Inc, based in Dunhampton, near Droitwich, 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 squalid 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 placed into RSPCA care. We are working with experts to re-home these animals to appropriate establishments who can adequately provide for their needs for the rest of their lives.

To help the RSPCA investigate cases like this text HERO to 60155 to give £3.

-ends-

Notes to editors

  Images are available on request.

  Footage can be downloaded here http://bit.ly/I3aEk8

  More information about the RSPCA’s concerns about exotic pets can be found here: http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/other/concerns