BOSTON, June 16, 2022– The MSPCA’s Boston Adoption Center took in a veritable menagerie of animals the evening of Monday, June 13th from the unlikeliest source: the back of a U-Haul on the corner of Pacific and Sydney streets in Cambridge. Inside the U-Haul were two Chinchillas, a rabbit, two rats, three Quaker Parrots and three love birds, as well as four Coatis—exotic mammals native to South America that are illegal to own as pets in Massachusetts.
The four law enforcement agencies on the scene—the MSPCA, Cambridge and environmental police departments, as well as the Cambridge Animal Commission—described the cages as dirty, and the individual connected to the U-Haul, whose identity has not been released at this time, is now under investigation.
One of the Coatis managed to escape from the U-Haul but was found Tuesday night and brought to the MSPCA’s Jamaica Plain center by the Cambridge Animal Commission Officer at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Animals Escape without Injuries – Despite Dangers of Hot Cars
Cars, including U-Hauls, can heat up exceedingly fast, even on moderately warm days, which is always a dangerous scenario for animals. Fortunately for these animals involved, over-heating was not a factor on Monday.
The animals are being examined by veterinarians at the MSPCA’s adoption center, with the Coatis living separate and apart from the other species. The animals who are able to be placed for adoption will be available in the coming days at mspca.org/adopt. The Coatis, however, will not be available for adoption—and the MSPCA ultimately hopes to place them in an accredited wildlife sanctuary.
“Not only are [the Coatis] illegal to keep as pets in Massachusetts, but they have complex social and health needs that are very difficult to meet in a home-like environment, so we’re hoping that either a sanctuary or other wildlife-focused organization, or a zoo, will ultimately be able to take them in,” said Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Angell. Keiley and his team will also research appropriate sanctuaries in hopes that a placement can be made soon. “We’ll keep them safe and happy in our care, as best we are able, until we find a more permanent solution for them,” he added.
Increasing Incidences of Exotic Animals in Massachusetts
This is not the first time that exotic (and illegal) animals made their way to the MSPCA. A wild African Serval was found wandering in Lincoln, Mass. this past January and the cat ultimately ended up at the MSPCA, from which staffers were able to place him in the Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota, where he still lives today.
Kara Holmquist, the MSPCA’s director of Advocacy, made clear that possession of animals like Coatis is strictly illegal in Massachusetts. “The private possession of these animals is prohibited unless the owner has been granted a license from the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife,” she said. More information about the dangers of keeping wild animals as pets can be found here.