Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Iowa Zoo over Endangered Species Act Violations

Posted on June 11, 2014

Manchester’s Cricket Hollow Zoo Faces Lawsuit over Cruel, Illegal Conditions

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

lionessMANCHESTER, Iowa — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) along with several Iowa residents, filed a lawsuit against Delaware County’s Cricket Hollow Zoo owners Pam and Tom Sellner for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in failing to provide adequate care for animals housed at the facility. On March 4, 2014, ALDF warned the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Cricket Hollow Zoo of their plan to sue the zoo owners for violating the ESA by “wounding, harming, and/or harassing” endangered animals like tigers, lemurs, and wolves at the zoo. Extensive photographic evidence, visitor observations, and expert analyses indicate that animals at the zoo are mentally and physically suffering in illegal conditions. ALDF offered to relocate suffering animals to reputable wildlife sanctuaries, but the owners have not responded to ALDF’s offer.

Veterinary experts and federal inspections show alarming conditions for animals housed at the Cricket Hollow Zoo. Tiny enclosures for large carnivores like lions, tigers, pumas, and wolves have been found with accumulating feces and food waste. In June 2012, zoo visitors observed an emaciated lioness vomiting and numerous enclosures strewn with fly-laden meat. Inadequate shelter may have caused at least one big cat to die from exposure to the cold. Primates like lemurs—who are extremely social and wide-ranging in the wild—are kept in isolation in small spaces. Lemur expert Dr. Peter Klopfer concluded that the zoo’s actions are “akin to locking a human prisoner in an isolation ward the size of a telephone booth” and that “these animals are highly stressed, certain to be psychologically impaired, and likely susceptible to disease.” In 2011, the USDA determined that these conditions do not facilitate the well-being of animals and fined the zoo over $6,800 for ongoing violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The lawsuit alleges the zoo is massively understaffed.

“This roadside zoo violates the Endangered Species Act,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We tried to work with the Cricket Hollow Zoo, but now we turn to the courts to ensure these suffering animals are moved to reputable sanctuaries where they can receive proper medical treatment and care.”

The Iowa law firm Wertz & Dake is providing pro bono counsel in the case.

Copies of the complaint are available by request.

22 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Iowa Zoo over Endangered Species Act Violations

  1. Brenda says:

    Please stop the mental and physical suffering of these poor animals.

  2. Robin Snackers says:

    Save the animals from those bastards!

  3. DavidG Fisher says:

    Save these poor animals.

  4. I am relieved to see these Animals being rescued. It is devastating, however, that this occurs. I am happy and disgusted at the same time. God Bless the people who did this. In Jesus’ Name.

  5. Pamela Geier says:

    STOP YOUR CRUELTY TO ANIMALS!!!! NO animal deserves this kind of treatment. NONE.

  6. Patricia Friedmann-Folman says:

    Sue them !

  7. Sue says:

    Felony Animal Abuse…jail 10 years for each Animal. All property sold and assets should go towards the care and finding good home.

  8. Mell Lintern says:

    I’m hoping for an excellent outcome…these animals deserve the right to live peacefully and properly…to deny this…is a blatant crime against innocence.

  9. Marian Gallagher says:

    Pls save these animals!!

  10. Suzi Pritchett says:

    I will do my very best to ensure these bastards get behind bars as they deserve to be. Unbelievably, when they get there, they will be treated with kindness unlike how they treat these animals. Cricket Hollow — HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELVES? Well, get used to bars…soon enough.

  11. Paulette Williams says:

    They should all be in jail…shut own that zoo and place the animals where they can be taken care of right.

  12. Michelle says:

    Bastards!!! Using animals to make money!

  13. Deb Joling says:

    Plewse help these animals live in a better situation and stop their exploitation. No animal should have to live in a tiny filthy prison. Several have already died from this situation please put an end to it

  14. Cin Pineda says:

    Leave wild animals in the wild,,, case and point!!

    1. Cin Pineda says:

      It’s “unNatural” for ANY wild animal to be locked up!! Where are all those church people when you need em, the ones who love to protest about UNnatural things.??

  15. Lauren Smith says:

    disgusting!!! all about the money no matter how much something has to live in misery and suffer!

  16. Peggy says:

    The more I see and read about the way greedy, insufferable people treat poor defenseless animals, the more disdain I have towards human beings. They will answer to The Lord God Almighty one day! I’d hate to be in their shoes when they are sent straight to HELL.

  17. pam says:

    Having been a recent visitor to the zoo to see for myself I can honestly say these charges are true and justified.

  18. ilonka goode says:

    leave wild animals where they belong to

  19. sharon mcaulay says:

    U r so cruel! Animals do not belong to us they r equal!!! Stop this barbarianism NOW!!! People that harm animals disgust me! Do not incarcerate any animal!!!

  20. De Moya says:

    This type of mistreatment needs to STOP. How can people be soo cruel. I am weary if this release them to a sanctuary now

  21. Jason says:

    Thank you ALDF. This place has been in operation for years why has nobody (local law enforcement, Iowa Department of Agriculture, USDA) done something before now to help these animals? Why did it have to wait for ALDF to step in?

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