A newly released USDA inspection report alleges that skunks at Kokas Exotics in Prospect, OH, undergo surgical procedures performed by roadside zoo staff without veterinary supervision, utilizing dirty instruments and no pain control measures.
Kokas Exotics is owned by Craig Kokas and his niece Ashley Kokas. Craig is an exotic animal breeder and dealer selling raccoons, bobcats, groundhogs, skunks, foxes, lemurs, squirrels and possums from $250-$2,250, according to the Kokas Exotics website.
A Sept. 16, 2021 USDA inspection yielded 12 animal welfare violations for Kokas Exotics.
The inspector found that the facility was performing anal sacculectomy procedures on skunks, which is a surgical procedure referred to as “descenting,” to remove the skunks’ scent glands.
“There is no guidance provided on how to perform the anal sac removal and no post-procedure care instructions or pain control measures are provided,” the USDA inspector documented in her report.
The inspector also noted that the facility was not performing the procedure in a sterile room and they were not using separate sterile instruments between surgeries. The attending veterinarian never observed the procedure or had direct oversight to assure proper procedures and protocols, according to the report.
Kokas Exotics was also cited with several violations for missing records. The USDA was unable to identify the acquisition records for 125 animals.
The facility was housing munchkin cats outside, but the USDA inspector was concerned the cats may not be able to tolerate the temperature extremes seen in Ohio.
Approximately 60% of the enclosures housing skunks, raccoons, red fox, coatimundi and mink were rusty, not structurally sound, posed a risk of injury to animals or posed an escape risk for animals, according to the report. There was no secondary perimeter fence to contain the animals if they were to escape.
85% of the enclosures had excessive amounts of food waste, excreta and other organic waste piled up underneath, at least one foot high, documents indicate. A raccoon was found to have no dry place in its den enclosure for it to reside without coming into contact with its own bodily waste.
At least 40% of the food receptacles and 75% of the water receptacles were rusty, chewed on, and posed sanitation concerns, the inspector documented in her report.
Kokas Exotics was cited with 11 non-critical violations and one direct violation for the infractions. The USDA attempted to reinspect the facility on Oct. 25, but no facility representative was available to complete the inspection. Craig was cited with a noncritical violation for the missed inspection.
Craig is the son of the late John Kokas, who started Kokas Exotics in 1976. John was seriously injured in Sept. 2011 when he was attacked by an adult kangaroo. The kangaroo was euthanized.
News reports indicate that Kokas Exotics breeds and raises exotic animals for the San Diego Zoo, which is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Kokas Exotics September 2021 USDA Inspection Report: