November 22, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
37°F
test

Exotic animals on the block at auction

MOUNT HOPE — If the typical house pets have lost some appeal, the exotic animal and bird auction this weekend in Mount Hope could be your ticket to owning the animal of your jungle dreams.

The Mount Hope Auction hosts the event three times a year, and it is one of the only places in the state where interested buyers can bid on everything from lion cubs to alligators.

BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE
Marilyn Burns of Denver, Ind., holds Aussie, an 8-month-old red kangaroo, at an exotic animal auction in Mount Hope on Friday.

The three-day event in central Ohio runs through today and features more than 100 animal species.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Tammy Porter, of Wooster. “My friend was trying to get me to buy a wolf. I told him he was crazy.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the auction, and it requires that all the animals brought in are accompanied by an official health certificate from its state of origin.

Buyers also must pay a veterinary fee in addition to the cost of the animal, and they can’t leave the auction without the proper permits and papers.

Inside the auction gates, monkey and parrot shrieks can be heard just above the repetitive melody of the auctioneer’s call while visitors of all ages try to catch rare glimpses of animals they haven’t seen before.

“It’s like the zoo, but without the drive,” said Ed Halford, of Berlin, Ohio. “We brought the kids out here to see all the different kinds of animals. It’s a pretty good time.”

Myriad show barns display the animals in cages and stalls until it’s time to be held up or paraded around the auction block.“Jacob,” a tall, 4-year-old camel, waited for its turn by gnawing on straw in its pen. It had been in a petting zoo all its life, according to a sign on the stall.

“That’s what a lot of these animals are purchased for,” said Marilyn Burns, a 67-year-old seller from Denver, Ind. “Petting zoos are popular wherever you go.”

Burns, who attended the auction for the past five years as a seller, said Friday that she hoped her 8-month-old red kangaroo, Aussie, would collect at least $2,000 when it came to the podium.

“He’s super tame, and the tamer the better,” she said. “If somebody really wants him, he’ll get more money because he’s tame.”

With dollar signs in Burns’ head, not everything at the auction has been as easy for the exotic seller.

Two years ago, a run-away reindeer stabbed her in the stomach with its antlers. The wound resulted in 37-stitches, in addition to a lot of pain.

“It wasn’t his fault,” she said. “I should have been paying attention. You have to be careful around here, or you’ll get stuck where it counts.”

Contact Stephen Szucs at 336-4016 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.