A zoo owner in central Quebec is facing criminal charges after roughly 100 animals were seized at a facility in Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé.

Normand Trahan was arrested Tuesday morning by SPCA investigators, with the assistance of provincial police, on charges of animal neglect and cruelty.

If found guilty, Trahan could face up to five years in prison and a lifetime ban on owning an animal.

The alleged crimes took place between May 2016 and October 2018. 

The animals found at the Zoo St-Édouard, about 120 kilometres north of Montreal, include lions, tigers, zebras, camels, kangaroos and bears.

Humane Society International (HSI), a non-profit organization, is tasked with caring for the animals and finding them new homes.

In 2016, the Zoo St-Édouard purchased two leopards to add to its collection of exotic animals. (Josée Ducharme/Radio-Canada)

Problems at the facility were flagged by animal welfare groups last year.

An HSI spokesperson said SPCA inspectors seized two alpacas “in poor condition” in August 2018.

During that visit, the SPCA also found four animal carcasses, including those of two tigers, and noted “several offences to proper living conditions.”

HSI will provide more information about animal relocation efforts, which could take several weeks, at a news conference later today.

Quebec’s business registry lists the zoo as a breeding facility for livestock and poultry.

According to Radio-Canada, it had been for sale for several years.

Trahan took over the property in 1989 when it was known as the Centre d’Observation de la Faune.

According to the zoo’s website, it was set to open for its 30th year May 25. Visitors can see up to 100 species of exotic animals, including lions, tigers, baboons and leopards, the website says.

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