A PASTOR yesterday admitted to the court that he was in possession of protected animals at his pet store.
Desmond Ramlogan was chastised by the magistrate, who said he should set a better example.
"As a pet shop owner, if they come to you, you must tell people, I am not going to purchase. Once you purchase, there is a demand and then people will want a supply. That is a form of cruelty to these animals," said Chaguanas Magistrate Alexander Prince.
Police prosecutor Deochan Gosine said that at around 3.30 p.m last Saturday, game warden Andrew Boyce went to D's Pet Shop, along Southern Main Road, Edinburgh, Chaguanas.
He saw Capuchin monkeys and morocoys in cages and asked Ramlogan to produce the permits for them.
Ramlogan, 41, of Carlsen Field, near Chaguanas, was taken to Chaguanas Police Station along with the animals.
Yesterday, a cage containing four morocoys and three cages, each occupied by two monkeys, were taken into the Third Court.
Defence attorney Sunil Seecharan said his client was the father of two teenagers and this was his first offence.
He said Ramlogan was the pastor at Redeeming Life Ministries.
"He also assists prisoners at the MSP (Maximum Security Prison). He goes and lectures and preaches," Seecharan said.
He asked for leniency for his client.
Prince said that given his clean record and his guilty plea, he would show mercy.
But he told Ramlogan: "This court has observed that in recent times, persons are really ignoring the law as it relates to endangered species. These animals are made endangered to protect the wildlife and they are not for sale. Persons seem not to care."
Prince said for financial gain, people have been capturing and selling such animals.
"The court cannot condone that. Four morocoys on top of each other...they are not supposed to be living like this. We have to be humane to animals just as we have to be humane to our own species, human beings," he said.
The magistrate said the maximum sentence was $1,000 or three months in prison.
For the possession of the morocoys, Prince fined him $500.
In default, he will serve three months in prison.
Ramlogan was also ordered to pay $700 for possession of the monkey or will also serve a three-month prison term.
The money had to be paid immediately.
Prince said the animals were to be taken to the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago at once.
"They shall exercise their discretion as to what is best for the animals," Prince said.
Boyce and game wardens Andrew George, Visham Madhu, Jeremy Dindial, Ravi Rampersad and Shiva Dhanpat were involved in the case.