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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Exotic animals found in Starkville house

Starkville Police Department received an off-campus noise complaint on Aug. 28, but the police did not find a party or rowdy college students. They found exotic animals.

The animals lived with a Mississippi State University senior veterinary student at 203 Park Avenue in Starkville. The student’s name has not been released because no charges have been filed against him.

Among these animals were exotic and rare birds, snakes, frogs and two servals — African cats. One of the snakes was reported to be blue and appear velvety.

Stephanie Perkins, a Starkville Police Department detective, said the house was obviously being used as a breeding facility.

“He (the student) even told us that he breeds the species together,” Perkins said. “You can’t have a commercial business in a residential area. That was one of the main things that we were looking at.”

Perkins estimated the off-campus residence housed around 150 to 200 animals. She also said there were two animals of each species — a male and a female.

Because the student lived and housed the animals off-campus, MSU does not have jurisdiction over the incident.

Sid Salter, director of University Relations, said the university is working with the local authorities to make sure the matter is resolved appropriately.

“The Starkville police have asked for the help of some of our CVM (College of Veterinary Medicine) faculty to make sure that they were doing the appropriate things for the safety of the public and the animals,” Salter said.  “Our CVM faculty is not in the position to take responsibility for moving the animals. They are assisting law enforcement.”

There is no evidence of foul treatment of the animals.

“They were very well taken care of,” Perkins said. “The cages were clean. The aquariums were clean. They had lots of food.”

Perkins also said the animals do not pose a threat to the Starkville or MSU communities.

Starkville police assisted animal control while responding to the initial noise complaint. They also contacted the Wildlife and Fisheries’ state and federal bureaus.

“We pretty much turned it over to them, and they haven’t done really anything with it,” Perkins said. “I’m assuming they aren’t going to press any charges.”

Officials did ask the student to relocate the animals due to their potential risk to the area. The student has moved the animals that lived outside, the ones who caused the noise complaint, to different facilities around the state.

“He (the student) has complied, and he has done everything he’s been asked to do,” Perkins said.

Salter also said if this incident had happened on campus, it would have resulted in many violations of university policy.

“Students are not allowed to house a menagerie of animals of this size and scope,” Salter said. “Of course, Housing and Residence Life enforces those rules day-end-day-out. But I guess if there is anything our students could learn, on-campus that is un-acceptable behavior and behavior that would carry consequences.”

Perkins said an incident similar to this has not occurred on or off campus before.

“I’ve been doing this for nine years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Perkins said. “I really felt like I was in a tropical jungle. It was really neat.”

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Exotic animals found in Starkville house