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Owner of exotic zoo busted by police demands answers after kangaroo dies

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 09:01:13-05

The owner of an exotic zoo who is charged with animal cruelty is speaking out after one of his kangaroos died after being seized.

"My kangaroo would be alive today if it was still with me. My Madeline is dead because the Detroit Zoo did not properly transport my kangaroo," is what Javon Stacks is saying.

tacks was arrested and charged last year with one count abandoning/cruelty to animals – a felony – and two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.

The animals were put into the custody of the Detroit Zoological Society at the time. The zoo has released a statement saying the kangaroo died of a broken neck. Their statement, which can be read in full below, says their personnel did not witness anything during the time that the animal was in their custody that could account for the injury.

In August 2019, Romulus police busted the location where Stacks' was keeping the animals, inside a store in a strip mall. Inside, police found over 300 hedgehogs, six Flemish giant rabbits, three large iguanas, two kangaroos, a peacock, silver fox and a 16-foot reticulated python.

Charges against Stacks were thrown out when the prosecuting attorney didn't show up on time. The charges were re-issued later and Stacks was arraigned on them.

Stacks was in court last week for a preliminary hearing. A former employee who worked for Stacks testified in court about the poor conditions he saw inside the facility.

Stacks says he was speechless when he heard in court last week during a preliminary hearing that the kangaroo, named Madeline, was dead, "My family almost broke down in tears and what I want to know is why was this hid from me and my attorney for over six months."

Stacks also says he's been transporting that kangaroos that are part of his company, The Exotic Zoo, for six years.

He claims that case against him is based on lies and was not properly investigated by Romulus Police.

The judge will hear more testimony in the case later this month.

Stacks is licensed by the USDA as an exhibitor of animals.'

The Detroit Zoological Society released the following statement about the situation:

The female kangaroo died after she was transferred from the small, indoor enclosure in the strip mall into a transport crate. Five DZS animal care staff, all experienced in the care (and transport) of kangaroos, assisted with transferring the two kangaroos from the strip mall to the Detroit Zoo. Both kangaroos were gently “herded” into separate crates, which both entered easily, and the crates were immediately loaded into a DZS vehicle for transport to the Detroit Zoo. A DZS staff person assigned to monitor the kangaroos enroute noticed within the first few minutes that the female was not moving. She was taken from the crate and cardiac resuscitation was initiated in the transport vehicle. Upon arrival at the Detroit Zoo, she was examined by the veterinarians and determined to be dead. A necropsy was conducted and found that the second cervical vertebra in the neck was fractured and that the second and third vertebra were not aligned correctly. DZS staff did not witness anything that would have caused the injury during the process of transferring her, or see or hear anything after she was in the transport crate that would indicate that she had injured herself in the crate.

The rescued male kangaroo is now living in the Detroit Zoo’s 2-acre Australian Outback Adventure habitat with other kangaroos and wallabies.

The Detroit Zoological Society is often contacted by law enforcement agencies and asked to help when exotic animals are confiscated from private individuals, as in the Romulus case. The DZS is a leader in animal welfare, and is a strong advocate for stricter state and federal laws that limit keeping of exotic animals to organizations that have the expertise, resources and commitment to ensure their wellbeing.

Scott Carter, DZS Chief Life Sciences Officer.