Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Leopard on Instagram
Yes, you read the headline correctly. In another edition of weird news, yes a Buffalo man admitted in court to illegally selling a leopard.
Merisola, who owns an antique store in Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood, posted a mounted leopard on his Instagram page for sale back in 2019. He then sold it to a special agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who was undercover for more than $4,000. He was subsequently arrested by federal agents for illegally selling the animal.
Leopards are considered an endangered species according to the Endangered Species Act, so any activity with the animals, whether dead or alive, has to be done according to the rules set up by that law.
The leopard in question had been taxidermied and was mounted on a plaque for display. Merisola, who interviewed by the NY Post after his guilty plea, thought the 100-year-old dead animal was exempt from the law.
I bought this out of a gallery in New York City, and I was under the impression it was grandfathered in... I’ve never been in trouble in my life. It was poor judgment.
-Michael Merisola, while speaking to the NY Post
He now faces up to 1-year in federal prison and a fine of up-to $7,500.