An exotic animal farm in Perris was burglarized Monday, resulting in about two dozen llamas being stolen and other creatures being turned loose, possibly by animal rights activists.
The break-in occurred during the predawn hours at the 14-acre private facility near Orange Avenue and Murrieta Road, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
“We received a call about 6:30 a.m. regarding numerous llamas and emus walking on Orange,” Deputy Robyn Flores said in a statement released to media. “During the investigation, it was learned that a lock on the fence had been cut, which allowed the animals to leave the property.”
With the help of animal control officers, deputies and operators of the facility succeeded in corralling the creatures, Flores said.
However, after further investigation, it was determined 20-30 llamas were trucked away from the location by unknown suspects, the sheriff’s spokeswoman said.
According to published reports, the facility has recently been targeted by activists making accusations via social media alleging abuse and neglect of the llamas, emus, ostriches, buffalo and other livestock kept on the premises. But county officials said they have found no evidence of mistreatment.
The spokesperson for the Riverside County Animal Services Department, John Welsh, said officers have inspected the farm daily for the last couple of weeks over the accusations that surfaced online.
“We have actually had full cooperation from the custodians, they’ve allowed us to do a walk through and they see plenty of food,” Welsh said. “We have never walked across an animal that’s abused or neglected, certainly not emaciated, we deal with this type of stuff all of the time and the animals seem to be of good weight.”
He said the department would shut down the farm if officers had found any evidence of animal cruelty.
However, Welsh confirm that the county’s code enforcement department did open a case on the farm, but was not able to elaborate on the details surrounding the possible code violations.
Anyone with information about the burglary or the potential whereabouts of the llamas was asked to contact the sheriff’s Perris station at 951-210-1000.