Temperance, MI - Animals at Even Keel Exotics were covered in crusty scabs, chewed on by flies and some of the animals had no water to drink, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report.
Even Keel Exotics is owned by Zachary Keeler who acts as an exotic animal broker and roadside zoo. He buys, sells and trades animals while also exploiting them for a profit through paid animal encounters and baby animal days.
Keeler also catches animals from the wild and sells them as pets. His website advertises wild caught prairie dogs and Richardson ground squirrels for sale.
Keeler also sells sugar gliders, coatimundis, hedgehogs, spotted rock squirrels, ground squirrels, tayra, kunekune pigs, and more.
USDA records indicate that in 2010, Keeler picked up 206 sugar gliders from a dealer and transported them to his Michigan facility nine hours away. Keeler only checked on the animals once during the trip and by the time he arrived at his roadside zoo, half of the sugar gliders were dead. The inspection report indicates that half of the surviving sugar gliders died within a week.
In the past year, Keeler has sold numerous sick animals that died shortly after they were purchased, according to Google reviews.
Several buyers purchased mink from Keeler and they allege the animals were taken from their mother too soon. The mink were also found to be infected with toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that may be fatal in young mink. Reviews indicate at least three of the mink have died.
Two other purchasers indicate they obtained hedgehogs from Keeler that were severely infested with mites.
On July 19, a woman alleges Keeler sold her an Arctic fox. The woman said a veterinarian found the fox was infested with three types of intestinal parasites and also had distemper, a viral infection that is often fatal. The fox died a week after it was purchased.
In August, the USDA inspected Even Keel Exotics and found animals living in appalling conditions.
Two Arctic foxes had no water to drink, according to the USDA inspection report, and when offered water, both animals drank ravenously for at least one minute. The inspector noted that the lack of water can cause dehydration, distress and even death.
Three red foxes were covered in crusty scabs and patches of hair loss, according to the USDA report, and the attending veterinarian had not been notified of their condition.
The report indicates that flies were chewing on the ear of a cavy which had caused thickened skin and a split open wound.
“Bloody skin could be seen,” the USDA report noted.
The inspector said the hedgehog house and the front room of the barn had a strong ammonia odor. The odor was so strong that the USDA inspector said it could cause eye and respiratory irritation and lead to unnecessary pain and suffering for the animals living in the facility.
Even Keel Exotics also lacked a perimeter fence to act as a secondary containment for the animals and the inspection report noted that in May a wallaby escaped from the facility and was loose for 48 hours before being recaptured.
Keeler has been cited with USDA violations at each of his last seven inspections. At the most recent inspection the USDA cited Even Keel Exotics with two non critical violations and two direct violations, bringing the facility’s total to nine violations in the past six months.
Dozens of reviews indicate the facility continues to sell unhealthy animals to the public. Two petitions have been started to try to close Even Keel Exotics.
“This place should be shut down,” one Facebook reviewer said. “How many innocent creatures have to die for change to happen?”
Even Keel Exotics August 2021 USDA Inspection Report: