Men in court accused of operating exotic bird theft ring

Six men have appeared in court accused of stealing dozens of exotic birds from an aviary.

The suspects, all from North Brabant, allegedly snatched 36 birds from Vogelpark Avifauna in Alphen aan den Rijn during the night of September 15 last year. The species taken include toucans, cockatoos and the rare great blue turaco (pictured).

Half of the creatures were later found abandoned and neglected in a barn in Den Bosch. Three of them later died.

The men are also accused of taking 50 birds from cages on Hofzichtlaan in De Lier and dozens of others in raids in Udenhout and at Zoo Veldhoven.

Avifauna paid out a €5,000 reward two weeks after the theft for a so-called ‘golden tip’ leading to a breakthrough in the investigation, but did not disclose any details of the recipient. It estimated the value of the stolen birds at €100,000.

The victim of the theft in De Lier has demanded €30,500 to compensate for the stolen birds and lost earnings.

One of the six suspects, Aram S., has admitted driving a transit van that was used to take away the birds from De Lier, Zoo Veldhoven and Udenhout but denies being involved in the Avifauna theft. The other five deny having any involvement.

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