Press Release

Animals Rescued and Removed from Manchester, Iowa, Roadside Zoo

Media invited to press briefing after multiple groups work together to rescue animals after court ruling orders their immediate removal from Cricket Hollow Zoo


DES MOINES, Iowa – Today, many animals ranging from black bears to hamsters are being rescued from Cricket Hollow Zoo, a roadside zoo in Manchester, Iowa.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS), and additional partnering organizations are working together to remove the animals in blustery conditions Monday and transport the animals to quarantine and triage facilities. Veterinarians are on scene, and each animal is receiving a medical evaluation. The animals will now receive the medical care that they urgently require.

This rescue represents a massive undertaking. The animals being rescued from deplorable conditions include two black bears, three cavies, four skunks, three coyotes, multiple raccoons, a wallaby, and three baboons, as well as numerous rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, rats, fish, and birds. Among the birds are finches, parakeets, and pigeons.

Spokespersons from ARL and the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be on site at the ARL shelter for on-camera interviews on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 10:30 a.m.:

Animal Rescue League of Iowa
5352 NE 22nd St.
Des Moines, IA

For directions, please call (515) 262-9503

On November 25, 2019, Iowa District Court Judge Monica Wittig ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, finding Cricket Hollow Zoo had chronically neglected the animals — but defendants Tom and Pamela Sellner swiftly filed a motion to stay the ruling pending appeal in an attempt to derail the animals’ rescue. Acting Chief Justice David S. Wiggins of the Iowa Supreme Court denied the motion to stay on December 4, 2019 — clearing the way for today’s rescue.

This lawsuit is the third filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund against Cricket Hollow Zoo and has effectively shut the zoo down. In a previous lawsuit against Cricket Hollow Zoo, the Animal Legal Defense Fund set a critical legal precedent: that the Endangered Species Act applies to listed species in captivity, as well as those in the wild. That lawsuit, decided in 2016 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa and affirmed by the Eighth Circuit in 2018, concerned the treatment of four tigers and three lemurs. An additional Animal Legal Defense Fund lawsuit filed in 2016 against Cricket Hollow Zoo resulted in the rescue of two African lionesses — Jonwah and Njjarra.

Cricket Hollow Zoo had its exhibitor’s license revoked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in December 2017 after the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the USDA for reissuing the license despite the numerous violations the government agency had issued against the roadside zoo. The Sellners appealed the decision and the revocation appeal is pending.


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