A pet shop owner has been released on bail after he was arrested for allegedly trying to sell exotic monkeys from the boot of his car.
The man is accused of trying to sell lemurs to an undercover reporter in the car park of an out-of-town shopping centre in Banbridge on Friday.
A police spokesman said they were investigating a possible breach of legislation for the controlled trade in endangered species.
The 27-year-old was released on bail pending further inquiries.
Four of the lemurs were seized by police and USPCA acting under international law. A fifth was seized after a search of a shop in Ballymena.
The USPCA said the attempted sale by Mr Potter reinforced its concerns about the “highly lucrative” undercover trade in exotic animals, which it said were trafficked into the Republic.
Chief executive Stephen Philpott said: “The dealer arrested at the scene had boasted of having supplied a wide range of exotics, ranging from rare reptiles to big cats.
“Many of these animals are classified as dangerous wild animals (DWA) under Northern Ireland legislation and can only be sold to keepers who comply with strict licensing conditions, a requirement totally disregarded by the vendor.
“There is no DWA legislation in the Republic and animals are regularly trafficked into that jurisdiction.
“It is evident creatures are being sold illegally to purchasers whose knowledge about their specific requirements is at best nominal, at worst non-existent — and ignorance inevitably leads to animal suffering.”
Circuses with animals and pet shops were exempt from DWA legislation and were able to evade the law because of the large number of agencies tasked with enforcing exotic animal legislation.
“It is our view that ‘joined up thinking’ involving all relevant agencies and the USPCA could afford better protection to animals being exploited for profit,” Mr Philpott added.