(KENOSHA, Wisc.) — Authorities and zoologists in Wisconsin removed a throng of exotic reptiles being housed in an urban residence this week — including a Gila monster, crocodiles and snakes — as shocked neighbors looked on.
Kenosha police responding to a possible animal cruelty complaint Tuesday entered a home, situated just a few blocks from the city’s central police station, to find a 4-foot skeleton of an alligator in a large aquarium, the body of a large burned snake lying in some weeds, a dead 4- to 5-foot alligator, and the carcass of a fawn.
In the basement of the residence officers found a homemade indoor pond and several aquariums of various sizes throughout the residence with live animals. One contained a large Gila monster, and another contained a 4- to 5-foot crocodile, while one housed multiple snakes. The animals were located in containers in the basement of the residence, where two 6- to 8-foot alligators were found in a homemade indoor pond. A “very large” snapping turtle was found in a tub, police said.
Lt. Brad Kemen said that the animals that were found alive were transported out of the residence.
“They’re in the care of the Racine Zoo, and they’re in good condition,” Kemen told ABC News.
Gregory Maser, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, said that he was in a meeting with the president of the Racine Zoo when police got in touch about their discovery.
Maser said that he helped remove the animals, including five rattlesnakes, two American alligators, a crocodile, a Gila monster and a large alligator turtle.
“We had to be careful because the Gila monster is venomous, and the rattlesnakes are venomous,” he said. “The crocodiles were pretty small, I grabbed it. The alligators were a bit bigger. We had a few people, noosed them and taped their mouth.”
Maser said that the house hadn’t been lived in for what seemed like quite a while, and that the electricity and utilities were out. He said that he believed that someone had at least been coming back to occasionally care for the animals, and that the owner had done a lot of work on the house to have ponds in the basement for the animals.
There had been a small fire in the house, Maser said. He confirmed that a snake had been burned on the property.
Where the animals care from, and who owns the residence, is still unknown, according to Kemen.
A Kenosha city ordinance bans residents from owning wild animals, or an animal that may endanger life or property. Violators are to be fined no more than $300, plus prosecution costs, according to the ordinance.
“Once we investigate what animals were there, and they’re identified by the zoo, we’ll determine what if any charges will be filed,” Kemen said. Police declined to identify the owner of the home.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
AJ Willingham, CNN
Erin McClam, CNN
Julia Horowitz, CNN