Challenging Cricket Hollow Zoo’s Care of Endangered Species (2014)

The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the owners of the Cricket Hollow Zoo for violating the Endangered Species Act.


September 27, 2018

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Life was not good for the animals at the Cricket Hollow Zoo in Manchester, Iowa. Five tigers died in the span of two years, due to inadequate veterinary care. Another tiger was found to be suffering from open wounds, and hadn’t been treated by a veterinarian. A capuchin monkey, denied veterinary care, lost her hair and was seen chewing her tail from boredom and frustration. At least five lemurs also died.

Over the course of several years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documented a horrifying list of federal Animal Welfare Act violations at Cricket Hollow Zoo. These included animals who died of exposure to harsh weather; animals suffering with untreated injuries; animals being handled improperly; small, filthy enclosures; lack of access to clean water and food; food contaminated with vermin; the list went on and on.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed suit using a novel legal claim: that Cricket Hollow Zoo’s mistreatment of animals constituted a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa found that the ESA is applicable to captive animals, and that Cricket Hollow Zoo violated that law. The court ordered that the four remaining tigers and three remaining lemurs be removed from the zoo.

In 2018, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling that Cricket Hollow Animal Park did violate the ESA. This important victory sets precedent that paves the way for stronger protection of captive animals at other harmful animal facilities.

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