Film animal trainers charged with importing animals illegally

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – They’re big names in the film industry, and now a husband and wife who train animals for TV and movies have been charged for illegally bringing in animals into the state.

Their animals have been featured in “Better Call Saul,” the Netflix series “Godless,” and even commercials. Chelsey and Kip Lewis are well-known animal trainers in the film business.

“Every now and then you have an individual wants to sneak something in that they don’t have,” said Ross Morgan, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish spokesperson.

The couple who owns “A to Z Film Animals” has been charged by Game and Fish for illegally importing animals.

“When you’re talking legal or illegal, pretty much anything that’s brought into the state of New Mexico has to have in importation permit,” said Morgan.

In December, Game and Fish served a search warrant on the Lewis’ sprawling Belen property. They say Chelsey Lewis admitted to altering health certificates to import two mountain lions from Montana.

The report goes on to say the couple is suspected of illegally importing seven other animals, including a kangaroo, an alligator, and a capuchin monkey. Game and Fish said it has strict laws for good reason.

“If you look at Florida for instance, they’ve got the pythons, they’re running loose all over. We definitely don’t want an issue like that in New Mexico,” Morgan said.

In February, Game and Fish notified the couple to legally get the animals out of the state. The Lewis’ said the animals had been taken to an address in Texas.

When officers contacted the owner, she said she knew the couple and they had called her months prior, saying they needed a Texas address for a film project there. When officers searched the Texas property, they say none of the animals were there.

KRQE News 13 is still waiting to hear back from the Game and Fish Law Enforcement Division to find out what happened to the animals.

KRQE News 13 did call the Lewis’ number on their website. They did not wish to comment on the case.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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