Cricket Hollow Zoo lemurs, tigers transferred to new homes

Owners complied with federal court order

(File Photo) A Siberian Tiger lies just several feet away at Cricket Hollow Zoo in Manchester.
(File Photo) A Siberian Tiger lies just several feet away at Cricket Hollow Zoo in Manchester.

The owners of the Cricket Hollow Zoo in Manchester have complied with a federal magistrate’s order to transfer the lemurs and tigers in their possession to other Midwest animal facilities, who can provide better care for the protected animals.

Zoo owners, Pam and Tom Sellner, filed a status report Wednesday in U.S. District Court to confirm the three lemurs were safely taken on June 28 to Special Memories Zoo near Greenville, Wisconsin, and the four tigers were transported on July 3, to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Centerpoint, Indiana.

The report stated Pam Sellner received several calls from an official at Special Memories Zoo who reported the lemurs were adapting to the new environment. The report also confirmed the tigers were to be introduced to their new enclosures at the Exotic Feline Rescue.

Attempts by The Gazette to reach the Sellners for comment on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The couple lost a federal lawsuit in February over the mistreatment and trafficking of protected animals and were required to transfer the lemurs and tigers.

In his ruling, U.S. Chief Magistrate Jon Scoles did allow the animals to go to facilities the Sellners recommended. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a California animal rights group who won the suit, also made suggestions.

Scoles said in his previous ruling the Indiana and Wisconsin facilities, recommended by the Sellners, are federally licensed and “capable of meeting the needs” of the endangered species.

In Scoles’ 73-page ruling in February, he said the Sellners’ violations are “pervasive, long-standing and ongoing,” and if the endangered animals were not removed, then the violations likely would continue.

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The Defense Fund brought the lawsuit on behalf of five Iowans who had visited the zoo and were “distressed about the poor health and welfare of the animals.”

Scoles also said in the ruling that the social isolation, lack of environmental enrichment and inadequate sanitation provided to the lemurs violated the Endangered Species Act.

In addition, the tigers were “harmed” by the failure to provide adequate veterinary care and were “harassed” by the failure to provide adequate sanitation, Scoles noted.

The Defense Fund filed a notice in March to again sue the Sellners for the “retirement to sanctuary” of the zoo’s three lions, which were classified as an endangered species in December. Officials are willing to pay for the lions’ removal to accredited sanctuaries if the Sellners agree to negotiate the deal before legal action goes forward.

Defense Fund officials said Thursday they are to have an update on this legal action next week.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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