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Judge wants answer: Were some Cricket Hollow animals hidden?

Animal welfare advocates help remove wildlife Dec. 9, 2019, from the Cricket Hollow Zoo roadside attraction near Manches
Animal welfare advocates help remove wildlife Dec. 9, 2019, from the Cricket Hollow Zoo roadside attraction near Manchester following a judge’s order. (Photo from Animal Legal Defense Fund)
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MANCHESTER — A judge has ordered the owners of a closed-down roadside zoo in Eastern Iowa to explain what happened to some animals that were supposed to be removed.

In late November, Judge Monica Wittig found the Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester was a nuisance and ordered that the exotic animals at the site must be placed at accredited sanctuaries or zoos.

Four plaintiffs sued to have the animals removed and the zoo owned by Pam and Tom Sellner closed. It had been operated since 2002 despite repeated complaints that animals were mistreated.

In April 2019, a federal appeals court upheld a district-court ruling that the zoo violated the Endangered Species Act with its treatment of some animals.

An attorney who represented Iowa residents in the lawsuit has filed an affidavit requesting a contempt charge.

It asserts that several animals specifically mentioned in Wittig’s removal order, including five brown bears, two mountain lions, a fox, a wolf hybrid and a camel could not be found.

The Sellners’ attorney didn’t immediately return a message Monday from the Associated Press.

The judge set the hearing for Feb. 7 in Manchester.

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