LITTLE FRENCH KEY -2016  Website:

 

 

 

 

So once again, we are headed to Little French Key for the (I think) 3rd time. There are so many changes each time we go it's just simply amazing. You think they can't do any more and then they prove you wrong. This is seriously the most beautiful place on earth.

We made it outside the port where we "normally" meet Dave or Larry and immediately seen their bright shirts with LFK on it. They took our group waiting down the road...and down the road...and ???? I was wondering where we were going since we were walking into the little town. This was odd. We have always waited directly outside the gates for the van to pull up and get in. This time we would have to go into town and wait. I believe I overheard one of them saying that there was an issue with pulling up at the gates now and were forced to go down the road...but then again, they weren't talking to me, so I was just catching parts of the convo.

A van pulled up and people piled in. Once again, we were first in line and everyone had managed to get in front of us and now the van was packed. Off they went. We were assured that the other van was just parked across the street and now on its way over. It arrived and we all piled in. The hubby always gets the front seat in everything we do. I have to laugh about this. LOL

Then we were off and seeing the sites along the way. We pulled away at 8:50am.

 

I have to mention that we got stuck behind a car that was going SO SLOW and it was quite aggravating. I just wanted to get to paradise ASAP and it wasn't happening as quickly as it normally does. This person in front of us was ridiculous. We were 4 cars behind him. One by one the cars in front of us started passing this slow car. Then it was finally our turn. Yippee!

We passed Carnivals Mahogany Bay at 9:03. So, if you are on Carnival and docking at Mahogany Bay, lucky you. It's a much shorter ride for you guys. The first time we ever went to LFK, we were docked here and you can tell it's a shorter ride. Well, you cut at least 13 minutes off the ride.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the mayors house. I over heard someone (on our ride back) saying that the driver told him the house was up for sale. They mayor couldn't afford the payment on it so he was selling it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are heading into "Spanish Town", which is where the Mexicans live here. Now when we get that close, I know that the turn off to LFK is right up the road. This little town is for Mexicans ONLY. The driver said "No people of color are allowed here". While it's great they have a little community of their own, I found it weird that they still have some segregation there.

 

We also passed the huge shopping "Mega Plaza"
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Considering all that has been going on with LFK and their animals over the last year, I found it odd that they were able to put up a sign in town, but it did catch my eye.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I immediately know where our turn off is located and I threw my hand up and pointed right before we got there. I don't know why I did it. It was just a reaction. People in the van looked at me weird. I crawled back into my hole of happy places and continued taking pictures.
 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a lot of luxury hotels along the way.

 

When you head down that road, you immediately notice the houses getting nicer and bigger with plush yards and landscaping along the way. You know you are getting close.

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Then boom! You hit the gravel pot holed road that leads to LFK. The driver would swerve back and forth to avoid hitting the holes and allow us to remain in our seats instead of on the roof. The hubby said "I don't know why Kevah (the owner of LFK) doesn't just pave this road". I quickly reminded him that we have new houses going up 3 doors down from us, which is making such a muddy mess on our street, and he doesn't take his own money to clean the street every day for the neighbors, so why would Kevah use his money to pave a road that's not his? "Hmm, good point" he replies.

 

We pulled up at LFK at 16 minutes after passing Mahogany Bay. So it's about a total of 29 minutes to get to LFK from Coxenhole...give or take the traffic.

The place at Frenchy 44 has really grown up as well. They did have these stables last time we were here, but everything is matching with the restaurant, houses and everything...they match over at LFK too.

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We head over to the desk at the restaurant on the water to check in. I noticed this sign on the roof was new.

 

If you are a return customer at LFK, you get a 10% discount. If you want to change your package once you get there, you can.

We headed to the barge boat to go over to the island after paying.

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We head over to the desk at the restaurant on the water to check in. I noticed this sign on the roof was new.

 

If you are a return customer at LFK, you get a 10% discount. If you want to change your package once you get there, you can.

We headed to the barge boat to go over to the island after paying.

It only takes a couple of minutes to get across the water to LFK. Last time we were here, they had made a new dock on the side of the island that faces Frenchy 44's. I really liked when they use to pull up in the lagoon area. It was just a great first impression pulling up there in the beautiful light blue water. Although I completely understand the reason they moved the dock since that's where most of the action is at (in the lagoon) with swimmers and the jumping dock. But I still miss it.

 

I did notice they have a lot of new signs up everywhere. They have also added a lot of safety signs and evacuation route signs as well.

 

Once everyone was off the boat, someone started talking to the crowd and telling them about LFK and started giving them a tour. We have been here enough times to know our way around, so we left the group and decided to check out the animals and see for ourselves what was left here. There's still a lot of animals, but there are also a lot of empty cages as well. It was pretty sad I have to say.

We made it down to Lawrence the lion's cage. One of the workers was playing with him and it was so fun to watch their interaction. You can tell that he just loves this guy. It's amazing to see how far along Lawrence has come since they first got him. He was so abused before. He looks healthy and great now after his surgery. You can tell he's one happy lion.

He was just running back and forth chasing the worker and jumping up on the fence to be petted. The guy told us that he loves to be petted, especially on his nose and told us that anyone could pet him and he was very friendly.

 

After watching Lawrence be the king of the jungle, we headed on over to check out what other changes had been made.

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This small secluded little area was very pretty and new. So if you are looking for a place to hang out without a lot of other people, this would be your place. It only fits a handful of chairs.

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More of the area, including a new tree house.

 

Also, Simba's new cage that was built right before he was taken. So sad to see it empty now.  On the back side of his cage is a new pizza place.

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There's another new beach area called Kingston Beach. This is the area we went horseback riding last time and it was all muddy. It's very nice now. Amazing what a year will do.

 

There's a bar out in the water. There wasn't anyone out there this day. This is a real beautiful beach and area, it just needs some trees for shade and it would be perfect. 

 

I do believe they now have quite a few hammocks to enjoy in various places.

 

 

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This seems to be the area that we always head to first. I'm honestly not sure why because honestly, it's probably my least favorite area. Not much snorkeling in this area except along the walls you may find a few fish and the mangroves, but I think it's the area that is the least prettiest of the island. Somehow...we still end up here to start with.

 

Maybe it's because there's plenty of shade and the hubby likes the shade.

 

We settled in and picked our "spot" and immediately I put on my mask and headed out to snorkel some while Sakari grabbed the mermaid outfit and the hubby just chilled on the chair.

 

I found a conch shell with the conch still in it.  I snorkeled around the area, but really didn't find too much to see. A few fish here and there over by the mnagroves, but I wanted to explore a little more and headed over to the beach to the left.

 

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I decided I would head across the water and go toward the lagoon. There's a new bar that was built from before the last time we were there and I was now in this lagoon area in front of it.

 

I climbed out of the water using some steps that I didn't realize were there last time. These steps led up to the deck that was in the area of the lagoon (the pretty part). I walked across the deck and over to the lagoon side and back in I went.

 

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Last time I was here, there was a Lion Fish hanging out at this rock in the lagoon area that is an area that somewhat separates the sandy beach area from the area that dips up really shallow with sea grass. I found another Lion Fish at this same exact spot, but he was a little bigger. I wonder if it's the same Lion Fish as before and he has just grown up?

 

This little fish kept following me around. He stayed at my feet a lot. I stayed really still for awhile to see what he would do and it was fun to watch him dart back and forth, getting closer and closer to my fins. He was exploring and probably trying to figure out what I was. That or maybe he was a she and I was getting too close to her eggs or something.
 

There were some pretty nice sized Banded Butterfly fish and plenty of surgeon fish in this area. I love the blue surgeon fish (Blue Tang is what I always called them when I had them in my salt water tank). I hope to some day run in to Dori.

 

I explored all the way to the rope line where Carnival now has the "Big French Key" excursion on the island in the lagoon area right across from LFK. Then turned around. It's so ashame that this lagoon has these places so close together now that they have to be divided by a rope.

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I decided I was going to go up in the sea grass area and swim around the deck above and back over to the other side. I believe depending on the time of year and the tide, this area can get very shallow. It's shallow to begin with, but today it was extremely shallow around the deck area and at times I wondered if I should even be doing this. If you are going to swim around the deck to get back over to the other side, I suggest you do it quickly and be able to swim the distance (which really isn't that far) without putting your legs or arms down harm the area. It's kinda an area you need to strictly float across and very easy kicking of the fins in order to not tear up any of the sea grass.

 

You can see just how shallow it is. This is me looking under the deck. I believe these might have been some small ballyhoo fish. But, it was a little dark under there so they could have been some type of needlenose fish as well. They had long noses.
 

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I arrived back over toward our area to find my daughter up on one of the tables under the umbrellas in the water. She was posing for people while they questioned her about being a mermaid.
 

I headed back to find that the hubby had a drink waiting on me. It was just what I needed after that long swim.

 

A few minutes of resting and a worker came over to ask if we were ready to eat yet. I ask the hubby and he said sure. I wasn't really too hungry yet, but this was a shorter port day for us and I knew if I didn't eat now, I probably wouldn't have time later. He told us he would get our meals and bring them over.

There's tons of picnic tables around the area now, so this made it nice. We had one directly behind us that we would use.

I think them offering the food on this side of the island is new now. Before, you always had to walk over to the lagoon area to get your meal. I think since they have expanded so much now, they now offer it both places which makes it nice. HOWEVER, I believe since they are now doing this...it ended up keeping us in the area we were at....for the rest of the day. We wouldn't move to the lagoon side at all this time. So, I was saddened by this.

They give you food cards  for your meal now.  The food was good like always and we gobbled it all up. I don't eat the meat, so I always trade mine for the hubbys lobster tails.

 

A cup of pop there was $3.00, which I found to be a completed overcharge. You didn't even get the entire can, just a cup (which was a large cup) with ice and pop. I would much rather have a can to know I got at least a full can of pop. Since alcohol is more expensive than pop, we decided to buy Sakari's pop for her meal and we'd use the tickets for the alcohol. (You get 2 tickets per person for free drinks during you stay).

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After eating, I decided to walk the grounds and get some pictures.

 

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This is a new boat that they built that you can rent out for the day. I'm not sure why you would ever want to get on another boat and leave this paradise, but it's an option if you want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would continue on with my journey...

 

They  recently built a new beachhouse that you can now rent out and stay on the island. It's really huge and is a 3 bedroom home. You can rent it by the room or the entire thing. It has a large deck that walks across to another area.

 

Under it, you will find some additional cages, but I didn't see any animals in them.

 

The owner posted pictures on his social media site when this place was completed and the inside is beautiful.
 

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I decided to head over to the animal area for a few more pictures.

 

They had 2 new baby lions. They were resting when I was over there, but the hubby and Sakari would later go over and they were up playing with the crowd. I believe I read they were rescued from a circus.

 

 

And then I noticed it....PEACOCKS!!! Oh my, Sakari will be happy when I tell her I found some.

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I'm not sure if these bathrooms have always been here or not, but I did discover them this time. They did look like they might be new and they were really nice. They are located in the new area, under the owners house, and facing the new beach.

 

Outside the bathroom area, there is a little dining area to the right, still under the house, which is also where our food came from and there is a bar there.

 

They even had even added little details, such as this red bottle with flowers, on the tables. They have made this place just so beautiful no matter where you turn.

 

Obviously they give massages too, since I found a sign stating so. I didn't see anyone getting them, but know that people on the boards also ask about this, so I thought I would take a picture of the prices.

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I had went full circle on the island and made it back to the hubby. I ask if he wanted to go "for a ride" and we headed to find a few kayaks. We went over to the new beach because I had seen quite a few of them over there. We each found one and headed out in the water.

 

As soon as we got out in the water, a man came running over telling us we couldn't go "out" far in the water with them and we had to stay right here in this area. Um, ok. I had seen some people take them out earlier, but hadn't really watched where they went. If we had to stay in this little area, that was not going to be fun. The last time we left from the lagoon area and was able to go out to the coral reefs in front of the dock area and it was amazing. He told us that the area around there was too shallow. I was disappointed. I have always seen people in the kayaks go ALL THE WAY AROUND the island in them. Maybe it was just the area we were in.

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Well that took all of 5-10 minutes and we headed back. There were other people heading out in the canoes and this mysterious man that told us not to go out of the area was no where to be found. I swear it's just my luck.

 

It was time for another drink. That 5-10 minutes of kayaking made me thirsty. hehe

 

Meanwhile, Sakari was finding snail on the rocks...and then a crab. "Mommy!!! Come look!!! Hurry!!!"

 

The internet/wifi here is free and it was SUPER fast. This was awesome and I was able to post some beautiful pictures of our location in real time for back home. The hubby was able to catch up on a little bit of work and managed to find his new executive desk...desk, foot rest, drink in hand and internet. Wow, does life get any better than this??

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I knew time was flying and we would have to leave before long. I wanted to head out one last time to get some pictures with my goggles/camera and out I went...warning Sakari that when I came back in, it would be time to morph back into a human and get ready to leave. She told me I could stay out in the water, snorkeling as long as I wanted, and not to rush. LOL
 

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When I returned, I found Sakari being chauffeured around by her new friends mother on a paddle board. LOL

I had asked several of the workers there if Kevah was around today and was told he was on the mainland today working "at the office". I assume this means over at Frenchy 44's, but not sure. Maybe one of those buildings over there is the office. I really wanted to talk to him today and see how him and the family are doing and get more of the scoop on the animals. I have been trying to keep up with it since it happened, but it's always nicer to hear from the actual source instead of online. I was disappointed that I would not get to see him today.

We gathered our things and started to head to the dock to get our ride back over to the main land. I really hated leaving so early and having to get back to the ship for an early departure. With us having to tender, it made for even a shorter day and the last tender was at 3pm.

We did see a few kids over at the new dock area. I was waiting to see if they used the rope to jump in the water, but I never did see them do it.

 

They do give helicopter rides now. I think this would be cool to do, but I'm sure it's very expensive and didn't see anyone doing it the day we were there.
 

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Still trying to make the most of the day, I would wonder off a little taking more pictures as we waited on the boat to return.

 

Sakari and I headed over to see the baby lions again. They were awake this time for me. Sakari put a leaf in the cage and one came over to investigate and then play with the leaf.

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I heard the hubby yell that the boat was coming and we came back to the dock.

 

We all got on and headed toward Frenchy's. We were told that we needed to head back around 1:30pm in order to play it safe to make it to the ship on time. It was already past that and my worried instincts kicked in. We had one last look at Little French Key and within minutes, we were back at the dock at Frenchys.

 


 

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Now for those that are new to reading about Little French Key....there's an entirely different area to LFK, which is the lagoon area. It's beautiful over there. The only time I was over there this time was when I was snorkeling. So, I really didn't get pictures over there this time. If you want to see pictures from there, you'll have to head over to one of my previous reviews of LFK from 2012 or 2014.

 

It was a short 30 minute ride back to the port. Once again, the hubby sat in the front and for some reason I headed toward the back. We were in there with a few other couples. We arrived back at 2:30pm and headed into the port area.

 

 


 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This will be our 3rd time here. Each time we have been there have been many changes from the place you come in and dock, to the number of beaches/statues/animal enclosures and so on.

 

The place just keeps expanding. It's absolutely BEAUTIFUL there and so much to see, explore, and do.

 

If you have never been here before, it's definitely a MUST SEE AND EXPERIENCE!

 

The owner is extremely friendly and charming and takes great pride in his island. He originally came to Roatan, from California, on vacation. He met his (future) wife and then moved there. Later they purchased the island for their family home and a place to raise their kids. They continued to build and expand on the island and decided to offer to beauty of it to others and started allowing people to come there. Every year they expand and have more and more things to offer to those coming there.

 

While this place is absolutely gorgeous and we have had a wonderful time each time we were there, I feel that it's time to take a break from LFK. In the beginning, this place was very secluded and had very little people there. You felt like you were the only one's there. The more they expand, the more crowded it gets. I'm not even sure they limit the amount of people allowed there in a day now. Although there's plenty of places to spread out and things to do, it's starting to appear more commercialized, more people, more rules, constant work and building being done to the island with workers running everywhere. Just when you think there's no more space to add something, they find a way. There used to be a grassy yard around the house...now it's filled with huge animal cages. There used to be unspoiled areas to the island, now they are all filled up with new beaches and places to do other things. It just doesn't feel the same now. But I still wouldn't hesitate to tell others to go and experience it. It's just that I have been so many times now and seen the expansion that I think it's time for us to take a break and try something new.

 

Then this happened...

 

 

August 28, 2015 RAID ON LITTLE FRENCH KEY AND THE ANIMALS

 

There have also been a lot of changes with the animals. LFK was raided at gunpoint on August 28, 2015. Police and armed guards were escorted by the Marine Park and showed up at the owners house in the middle of the night/early morning hours. They did not bring any legal documents, court papers or anything. The owners were forced to leave the island and the family and employees were intimidated throughout the night while the animals were being raided. The animals were thrown into small cages and taken away to other facilities on the island (which was later discovered that many went to Maya Key, who is owned by Anthony Key Resorts and speculation among the internet stated that the owner and $$ along with a strong presence with some "higher up" people in Roatan and he's very powerful, they illegally conducted this raid, without the knowledge of the current mayor, in order to drive down business from LFK...Maya Key is a cruise ship sponsored tour that could have been losing business due to the up and rising LFK, who was now rated #1 in Roatan on Trip Advisor. Also the owner of Maya Key and Anthony Key just happens to be the previous mayor). Owner of LFK did have permits for all the animals, which were good through February of 2016.  Maya Key was also there during the raid and helped transport over 100 animals away from LFK. Speculations continue with an employee (hearsay) overheard the Maya Key owner state that something was "about to happen within the week and I will put him out of business"...even though Maya Key claims they knew nothing about the raid until 24 hours previously.

 

Other "weird" twists to this story:

 

*Also the owner of the conservation program there had filed a statement with his "expert" opinion on having the birds at LFK and how the birds should not reside there, but in his sanctuary instead. Another twist...he's business partners with the owner of Maya Key AND the owner of LFK purchased his beach home on West Bay when they first moved from California to Roatan (then later purchased LFK as a vacation home). But yet, this owners birds at the time resided with him in this beach home there at West Bay. Weird coincidence?

 

*The Director of the Marine Park, who was also at the raid, just happens to also be on the board of directors at Maya Key.

 

*A vet has made a public announcement stating that he thought the animals were not at prime health...another tie, he's a personal vet to Maya Key and the owner. But think about it, of course they're not in perfect health when they come there, they are rescue animals!

 

There's a lot more "ties" than this, but is this all a coincidence? Or is there more to this story? It sure sounds like a lot of conflict of interest with these directors of places there that have ties together.

 

No reasons were given to the owners at the time of the raid. Days passed by before they were given information about why the animals were taken. However, another twist, the story has changed 3 times.
*They have stated that LFK did not have permits for the animals and that is why they were taken. Then when this was provided...The story changed and they publicly stated that there wasn't any problems with the permit or animals (but yet WHY did they take the animals if that's not the case?)

*They also stated at one point that LFK was operating as a zoo without them knowing...but yet how could they not have "known" since they've been there for years, everyone goes there to see them and the animals, it's advertised on their site, everyone on the island knows about the animals. Their permit was provided and valid. (Along with a statement saying LFK was a hotel...which they are not and you can not stay on the island).

Then they stated a previous worker from LFK stating the animals were not taken care of. Anyone that has been there can see the love and devotion to these animals and the clean cages and food. They have spent a lot of money on the huge enclosures for these animals, then thousands that were spent to better their lives, especially the pour abused lion from the circus, with the vet care, surgeries to correct all the problems.

*Next they stated it was an environmental issue with the mangroves and surrounding areas being cleared. If that's the case, what does this have to do with taking the animals? Wouldn't you get a fine for this? People have ask, why do places like Anthony Keys have their area cleared except a few mangroves, perfectly lined as if they just happen to grow exactly where they want them to? How did BFK manage to clear out their new beach area for the cruisers to come without doing any sandbagging or removal of the flora/mangroves in the area? (Not saying it's ok at all, but it's ok for one but not the other?)

I don't even remember what the next thing they came up with. It all just seems to be story changing after story changing excuses and very confusing.

They also raided the bird sanctuary that is located next door to Frenchy's 44, which happens to be owned by Edgar Bodden, who is Victor Boddens brother. It is reported (hearsay) that they thought this bird sanctuary was a part of LFK.

Owners have reported that they are still open for business as usual. Owners also reported that their legal team has uncovered there was no search warrant, no siege warrant, no confiscation order by any court for the location at Little French Key and for any animal at the approved Zoo. That must have been why they felt the need to raid their island, at gunpoint, in the wee early morning hours and was only presented a hand written list of animals they wanted. (Yes, this hand written list has been shared with the public) The owners report they have all the paperwork on all the animals they had. They have also provided (posted) a copy of their permit to have them, as a zoological place, that was renewed in February of this year and not due to renew until next February.

So many twist and turns to this story. I personally feel this is a corrupt government and things just do not add up and the tourist money seem to be the evil root of it all. It almost appears as a personal vendetta against these non-citizens of Roatan (LFK owners). Until they sort this out, as much as I love Roatan, I probably will think twice about returning to Roatan. Just my opinion.

 

 

 

 

APRIL 28, 2016 UPDATE ON RAID per LFK

 

"After 8 months to date from August 28, 2015 of wait, hard work and hard ache, with G-d’s grace, hard work from our legal team, support and prayers from our dear friends, family, guests and visitors on this Passover, Little French Key received an 8 page positive court resolution that the raid on Little French Key, search and taking of the animals from Little French Key and Mr. Edgar Bodden were all illegal, in bad faith without cause and absolute abuse of power.
Now we are ready for two possible actions, one retaliation by the corrupt officials behind this ruthless, illegal act or with G-d’s grace them and those assisting them coming to their senses and soul search, using the same amount of effort to bring our animal family home.
Although we and our business has endured the psychological, slander and business damages associated with these illegal actions, it was and always has been about the welfare of our animal family and the best for Roatan.
In the word’s of George Washington, “ I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man”.

 

Inventory.....Simba our Jaguar, and our 5 captive born deers and several monkeys including Lisa, Puncho, Romeo, Prince, and several Macaws at Barberetta, to be returned ASAP.....other Macaws and parrots and toucans at Macaw Mountian, Copan Ruins, Lloyd Davidson partner of...., to be returned ASAP, Maya Key, illegally held Macaws, Candy, Tina and Taz, Captive bred imported from US to be returned ASAP.

 

 

I also heard there was a second raid the following year, but can not find any details on it at this time. As of 2017, the animals have not been turned to LFK.

 

 

For these reasons, I believe that it is in the best interest for our family to not return to LFK at this time. Although crime can happen anywhere, there's just too much going on here with the government and crooked people out to destroy this family. Maybe in a few years...