Charlie the possum now lives happily at Popcorn Park Zoo, but not after a cruel nightmare for the little marsupial. Just months ago Charlie’s life could have been cut short when he became imprisoned in an illegal leg hold trap.
Charlie’s second chance at life and the conviction of his assailer was the result of good teamwork by the Associated Humane Societies and the New Jersey SPCA.
On June 4, an anonymous witness called Associated Humane Societies to report that an opossum was hanging from a leg hold trap tied to a tree on Mary Street in Belleville. The Society dispatched an ambulance to rescue the animal and immediate and extensive veterinary care was given for muscle, skin tissue, nerve and tendon damage.
Enter NJSPCA Corporal Alan Peterson whose dogged and thorough investigation led to the animal charges being filed against Francesco Martorino of Belleville. It was Corporal Peterson’s complete testimony at trial that then led to Martorino’s plea bargain and conviction. Martorino, charged with unlawfully trapping an opossum with a banned leg hold trap and leaving it to die in a tree with its leg still in the trap pleaded guilty of animal cruelty and was fined $500.
"Although these animal torture traps are illegal in New Jersey, some misinformed, uncaring individuals think it’s just fine to use them," said Roseann Trezza, Executive Director, AHS/Popcorn Park Zoo. "Thanks to the concerned citizen who called us, as well as to Corporal Peterson, justice for Charlie has been served and he now has a safe place to call home."
Charlie will spend the rest of his days at Popcorn Park Zoo. Individuals can continue to help Charlie by serving as a sponsor. For $3 a month, individuals can sponsor Charlie, or any of the other hundreds of animals whose lives have been turned around because of Popcorn Park Zoo. Sponsors receive a picture of their "adopted" animal, a quarterly report and free admission to Popcorn Park Zoo.