Mexico City police deployed a force of over 60 heavily armed officers to rescue 200 exotic animals from a so-called animal welfare foundation.
The animals rescued included 177 exotic felines, 17 monkeys, four dogs, two coyotes, and two donkeys.
The police action came after several activists and foundation employees filed formal complaints with the city government, reporting “horrific” conditions at the Black Jaguar-White Tiger Foundation.
“The conditions these animals were kept in were truly horrendous. There are even reports of large felines getting so hungry that they turn on each other and even began to bite at their own tails out of hunger and stress,” said Eduardo Mauricio Moises Serio of Mexico City’s zoological association.
Though Mexico City police say arrests have been made, the names of these individuals were not disclosed.
Each of the animals is to be evaluated extensively before they are found new homes, but given the large number of specimens, authorities say it is impossible to guess exactly how long this will take.
“Moving and evaluating so many wild animals is quite the task, especially given how stressed out and frightened they are. We are doing everything in our power to get this done as soon as possible, but it’s no easy feat,” said Ernesto Zazueta of Mexico City’s animal welfare agency.
According to initial reports, Black Jaguar-White Tiger was in the business of raising animals in captivity for private sale.
Several animal welfare activists argue that authorities in Mexico City have long known about the abuses going on at the foundation.
It is unknown how many animals the foundation smuggled or how many animals died unnecessarily under their care.
Incidents involving the traffic of exotic animals in Mexico, Yucatán included, have been on the rise for several years.
While many of these animals are ultimately smuggled abroad or kept as pets, others are bred for their eggs, pelts, feathers, or shells.