Israeli authorities have busted a massive black-market operation featuring rare and exotic animal species, the Nature and Parks Authority said on Tuesday, March 14.

The Jerusalem-area raid was a coordinated effort of the Israel Police, Border Police and the Nature and Parks Authority National Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit.

“Boiga nigriceps,” Red cat snake (subadult), Khao Luang National Park, Sept. 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of Thai National Parks via Wikimedia Commons.

“Thanks to the cooperation of the Israel Police and Border Police, we were able to stop a breeder that was illegally keeping a large number of animals, some of which were kept in poor condition,” said Nature and Parks Authority National Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit official Yaniv Shalom.

The animals, worth tens of thousands of shekels, were either set to be sold or were being kept by individuals. Those in poor condition were transported for veterinary care.

The suspect was transferred for questioning and a criminal investigation was opened.

Among the animals seized were red-eared sliders—the most popular pet turtle in the United States and one of the most popular pets around the world—and the Boiga genus of rear-fanged, mildly venomous snakes, which are commonly known as cat-eyed or cat snakes.

In 2019, approximately 40 neglected zoo animals were evacuated from a dilapidated zoo in the Gaza Strip by an international animal-welfare group, the fourth such rescue mission from the Hamas-controlled area.

Veterinarians and volunteers from Four Paws International arrived in Rafah in southern Gaza to evacuate five lions, five monkeys, four ostriches, three peacocks, two wolves, foxes, porcupines, 10 squirrels and a hyena, in order to resituate them in Jordan and South Africa.