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Exotic animals including South American ostrich and giant African snail seized from suburban NY home

NORTH BELLMORE, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities seized about a hundred animals from a Long Island home packed with exotic species — including a giant African snail, a sulcata tortoise and a South American ostrich, advocates said Friday.

The animals, some of which are endangered species, were discovered by state and local authorities Tuesday night in the basement and backyard shed of a home in suburban North Bellmore, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of New York City. The menagerie's owner was cited for 30 violations related to the illegal possession of animals, according to the advocacy group Humane Long Island.

“He had a lot of animals that have no business being in suburbia, period. Especially not in someone’s shed or their basement,” said John Di Leonardo, the group's president and executive director.

The group took custody of several dozen animals, including a five-month-old, female South American ostrich — or lesser rhea — named Eddy found in the crowded basement.

Di Leonardo said the man told him he ordered the rhea egg online while he was drunk.

Matt Roper, director of law enforcement for the Nassau County SPCA, said he could not name the animals' owner, who lives in the home with his parents, because the investigation was ongoing.

Authorities said the investigation began after the man began appearing with animals at events like birthday shows and street fairs.

A message seeking comment was left at a phone number associated with the man.

Roper said the state’s environmental agency issued about a half dozen summonses for harboring endangered species. There also were violations of local ordinances.

“He was very cooperative. He was scared. I believe he was way in over his head,” Roper said. “The animals were cared for. They were fed. It wasn’t the cleanest situation.”