Appearance of exotic animal suggests possible existence of 'illegal zoo'

A specimen of the Patagonian mara, a rabbit-like exotic animal native to Argentina, has been caught at an area where a wallaby was rescued from freezing earlier this year, reports LTV May 14.

It is thought the animal, barely alive, had fled a cruel master, seeing as its neck and legs were bruised. It was caught by employees of the Mežavairogi animal sanctuary, who located and caught it after being tipped off that an exotic animal was roaming free between the Iecava and Baldone areas near Rīga.

It was delivered to the Rīga Zoo, and specialists are trying to wring it away from death's embrace. The animal was famished to the point that specialists at the Rīga Zoo weren't able, at first look, to tell if it's a male or female mara. 

People with information about its possible master are asked to inform the authorities. Seeing as it's not the first exotic animal to be seen in the vicinity, it's possible there's a sinister scheme at work.

"It can't be excluded there's an illegal mini-zoo somewhere, or maybe someone is keeping exotic animals for fun," said Rīga Zoo director Ingmārs Līdaka.

Authorities were unable to find the owner of the wallaby, which had been taken into the zoo earlier. As it was discovered during freezing temperatures, the wallaby was named Spelgonis (the cold).

The wallaby is now at a Polish zoo. Seeing as maras are herd animals, and the Rīga Zoo doesn't house them, the Zoo will try to find it a new home if it survives. 

Specialists looking after the Patagonian mara are unable to say whether it will survive. The animal was severely wounded and has underwent an operation; and currently it has resumed eating food. 

While it's not illegal to keep unregistered wallabies and maras, the law still says they should be kept according to animal welfare requirements. 

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