WESTON, Conn. — Hundreds of exotic birds and snakes were being removed from a filthy Weston property Friday after complaints from neighbors about an odor led to the surprising discovery of the menagerie.
"We have never had anything of this nature to this extent," Weston Police Sgt. Pat Daubert said. "We've had some hoarding issues (in the past)."
Daubert estimated that there were about 100 various types of birds and about an equal number of snakes found at the home at 82 Newtown Turnpike. He said the owner had moved the animals to the property after an issue with his New York State-based pet store.
"This is a result of a pet store that had lost their lease, or there was some issue with their facility, and in the interim these animals were moved here," Daubert said. "It was the intention of the owner to secure a new place and move them to a new facility.
"This was a originally commercial operation that turned into a residential holding."
The police sergeant said he didn't have information on how long the birds and snakes had been at the site.
"By the looks of things, it's been some time," he said.
He said the owner, who he didn't name, has been cooperative with police.
"The owner of the birds has been very cooperative with us from the beginning, and he maintains that status," Daubert said. "This is a criminal investigation as well as a humanitarian effort for the birds."
Daubert said a lot of the snakes were dead as were some of the birds. The Weston Police Department has been aided by private organizations to ensure as many of the birds and snakes that survived are housed in proper facilities. On Friday afternoon, officials at the scene were taking birds out in cages from a separate building on the property to be evaluated before they were transported elsewhere.
Daubert praised the efforts of those individuals, in particular Dr. Raina Schunk of the South Wilton Veterinary Group, for assisting police.
"The outpouring that received from the private sector in this situation has been incredible," he said.
Workers in protective gear swarmed the property Friday, with animal cages spread on the lawn. One worker wearing a face mask was seen carrying out a yellow parrot in a cage.
The case began after Weston Police received a call at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday about the foul odor on the property, police said.
The Weston Forum identified the home owner as Daniel Kopulos and said he also owns Fauna NYC, a pet store that on Facebook said it recently had moved from New York City to Yonkers, N.Y.
The Facebook page for Fauna NYC also says Kopulos started a nonprofit organization called Animal Preservation Alliance "to further his efforts with conservation, education and rehabilitation/adoption programs" of animals.