FWC finds violations at wildlife facility

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers did an inspection of Terry’s Critters and the violations are spelled out in a 92 page report. (WPEC)

A zebra named Maggie. A marmoset named Little Miss Muffin. And a camel named Carl.

We’re not reading a Dr. Seuss children’s story. These are the names of animals living near someone’s home in Indiantown.

And state wildlife authorities say, for the sake of the animals, some things need to change.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers did an inspection of Terry’s Critters on Palomino Street east of Allapatah Road near Indiantown last month

The violations are spelled out in a 92 page report from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“She was about six months old when I bought her,” said Terry Gilliam, an owner of the exotic wildlife.

Terry Gilliam holds her skunk named Precious, one of many animals on her five acre property.

“His name is Speedy Gonzalez, because he’s very fast,” she said holding a Fennec fox that she keeps inside her house.

She also has a marmoset, a camel named Carl, several African spur tortoises, a water buffalo, emus, and a variety of other exotic animals such as capybaras, a watusi—which is similar to a cow with very large horns--- a blackbuck antelope she calls Bucky and a zebra.

During a surprise visit last month, FWC found 16 violations.

FWC took photos which they say show cages that were too small, some made of wire that was not strong and thick enough. According to FWC, some animals had piles of fecal waste in their pens. The tortoises didn’t have a pool of water in their pen. FWC said Gilliam’s fences were not high enough to prevent the blackbuck and zebra from jumping over them and escaping.

“Do you think your animals could’ve escaped the way FWC says?” we asked.

“Maybe my antelope, maybe my antelope. If it had, it wouldn’t have hurt anything,” she said.

FWC didn’t seize her animals, and for that she’s grateful.

“They said we’re not gonna take your animals. I love each one of ‘em. Each one of ‘em are like my babies, I raised ‘em on bottles,” she said, fighting back tears.

She faced 16 violations and FWC gave her 30 days to correct the violations.

Since FWC’s inspection last month, Gilliam estimates she and her husband have spent about $6000 making their fences taller, getting the animals rabies shots, and enlarging some animals’ cages.

FWC sent us a written statement saying quote: “We are continuing to work with the licensee to bring the facility into compliance with Florida’s captive wildlife rules. The FWC promotes responsible ownership of captive wildlife and it is the goal of the FWC to develop the best regulations possible that provide for public safety, animal welfare and the legitimate use of wildlife for educational, exhibition or personal purposes.”