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Phoenix Herpetological Society takes in nearly 600 rescued creatures

by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on February 7, 2010 at 12:40 AM

Updated Sunday, Feb 7 at 12:48 AM

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Herpetological Society is now caring for nearly 600 creatures rescued from an exotic import-export company in Arlington, Texas.

Those involved in that company are accused of abuse.

"When we talked to them, they basically had probably 26,000 animals that they needed to find homes for," said Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society. "Basically, there was no concern for the animals whatsoever. To them, I think it was just business."

Johnson said the animals -- reptiles, mammals and arachnids -- appear to have been neglected, starved and worse.

"I've never seen this many animals in such bad physical state in my life," he said. "I know after they took them in, the SPCA had at least 1,000 animals they couldn't save."

"A lot of them have missing toes and missing tail tips," said Dr. Tod Driggers, a vet who was working with the rescued animals. The animal he was holding at the time had a tail that had been broken in multiple places.

Among the lizards, snakes and spiders were a dozen kinkajous, which are tropical cousins to the raccoon.

Once the animals have been nursed back to health, many of them will probably be sent to zoos. Others will be adopted out to loving homes.

"We want to make sure that they're eating, and that we can give away a healthy animal ... get it adopted out to a prospective home is what we're hoping for," Johnson said.

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