A man from Arboleas has been arrested for illegally possessing exotic and endangered animals after police officers found he was keeping a private zoo which included a black panther.
Officers from Seprona, the Guardia Civil’s nature protection branch, found a variety of exotic birds and small mammals of unknown origin during an initial visit to the man’s premises.
They then called in the Soivre export and import surveillance and regulation service for assistance.
A further two inspections by members of both teams revealed that paperwork for the animals presented by the owner was of dubious authenticity and many of the rings on the birds were found not to match up with their documents.
During the second visit officers became aware that the man owned another building nearby where animals might be hidden and although at first he denied this he eventually gave in and led officers inside.
The building turned out to be housing a number of exotic animals for which the owner was unable to provide legal CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) documentation.
Officers also found a locked room within the building which, once opened, was found to contain a cage with a large black cat inside.
Further inspection revealed it to be a black panther (Panthera Pardus) which has now, due to its dangerous nature, been taken to a zoo in Alicante Province.
Four offences against the animals’ owner for smuggling in relation to CITES have been lodged with the Almeria Customs and Special Taxes Authority.