Spanish police have recovered dozens of exotic animals, including two caimans, three pythons, eight iguanas and 46 giant African snails, after discovering a private zoo on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria.
Officers from the Guardia Civil’s environmental division, Seprona, began investigating after learning that a resident of the central town of San Bartolomé de Tirajana had died recently, possibly leaving behind a large illegal menagerie.
When officers visited the property, they found 139 animals, 118 of which were classified as invasive species and 21 as dangerous animals.
In a statement, the Guardia Civil said: “Among the species seized were a royal python, two Burmese pythons, a dwarf caiman, two bearded dragons, two Greek tortoises, 34 crayfish, a leopard gecko, 46 giant African snails, seven snakes , a bullfrog, a long-necked turtle, eight iguanas, a spectacled caiman, 23 red-eared sliders, 13 blue-tongued skinks and three African spurred turtles.
Police also found 200 rats, 100 mice and “an unknown number” of cockroaches, worms and crickets.
“One hundred and eighteen of the recovered species have a high reproductive capacity and pose a serious problem to the ecosystem,” the statement said. “They can also transmit diseases that are dangerous to humans.”
The confiscated animals were taken to Cocodrilo Park, a nearby exotic animal rescue center.
The force said that under Spanish law, invasive alien species are defined as “those which are introduced or established in a natural or semi-natural ecosystem or habitat, and which are agents of change and a threat to the diversity native biology, whether through invasive species”. behavior or the risk of genetic contamination”.