San Jose woman fined for taxidermy of endangered species found inside her home

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Dora Zepeda must pay $3,600 and serve 300 hours of community service after California Department Fish and Wildlife found taxidermy inside her home, with some animals that are considered endangered.

"I tell the people you like shoes," said Zepeda, "I like animals."

As soon as you walk into Zepeda's San Jose home, her living room is full of more than 50 stuffed animals including a bobcat, iguana, snake, and even an African lion. It may be bizarre for some, but not to her.

"I love it," said Zepeda. "I don't think it's anything bad because I didn't kill these animals."

She started the eclectic collection nine years ago. She said all the animals were bought off eBay from all over the world. However, Department of Fish and Wildlife said some of them are illegal to own in California.

"We kind of have a little bit of everything here," said Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Last year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife got a tip from wildlife officers in France that Zepeda had tried to buy a protected species of owl online. Officers then discovered Zepeda owned several endangered species of birds and confiscated them.

"When you have a person who is intentionally going out and killing these animals or supporting killing of these animals that are already protected, you are contributing to their demise," said Capt. Foy.

Zepeda said she didn't know it was illegal.

"I never had trouble in my life," said Zepeda. "I need to work every day at 5 a.m. and later I need to work 300 hours more so it's hard."

She's hoping others will learn from her mistake as she no longer plans to buy animals from eBay. She also wants the online sales service to better explain and better regulate what's legal and what's not.

"I told the guy why you don't put the rules on eBay and why you don't call and say don't sell animals anymore in California," said Zepeda.

KTVU contacted eBay about its policy. The company said they provide information to all eBay users about the various laws related to sales of animal and wildlife parts and that includes links to information on California, federal and international law.