By Katie Nelson
SAN JOSE -- A San Jose woman who lived in a one-bedroom apartment with a stuffed menagerie -- including a full-sized African lion, a sea turtle and dozens of species of birds -- will serve probation and perform community service after she attempted to buy a stuffed barn owl from France via eBay, triggering an international investigation, officials said.
Dora Martha Jimenez Zepeda, 42, was fined $3,000 and sentenced to 300 hours of community service and three years' probation after she pleaded no contest to one count of unlawfully possessing birds of prey, according to a news release from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Zepeda also forfeited several other stuffed animals that are illegal to have in California.
According to the department, officials got a call in June from the French National Hunting and Wildlife Office, where an officer had been investigating the unlawful sale of a barn owl -- a protected species in France -- to a California buyer through eBay's French website.
Officials eventually traced the eBay account to Zepeda. When officers went to her one-bedroom apartment in San Jose, they found more than 50 stuffed and mounted animals, including a full-bodied African lion. Officers seized three species of hawk, two Western screech owls, one long-eared owl, two barn owls, one egret and one sea turtle, all prohibited species to possess.
Zepeda was allowed to keep the other mounts not prohibited by state or federal law. She told officers she bought most of her stuffed animals from eBay and denied having killed any of the wildlife herself.