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Judge orders animals removed from Cricket Hollow near Manchester

An African lion is shown in this undated photo at the Cricket Hollow Zoo in Manchester. (Animal Legal Defense Fund photo)
An African lion is shown in this undated photo at the Cricket Hollow Zoo in Manchester. (Animal Legal Defense Fund photo)

MANCHESTER — A judge who earlier said she “gagged” from the stench while touring an Eastern Iowa roadside zoo has ordered that bears, mountain lions, a camel and other exotic animals be removed.

In a ruling filed Sunday night, District Court Judge Monica Wittig found the Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester to be a nuisance and that the exotic animals there 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. Pam Sellner had operated the zoo since 2002 despite repeated complaints that animals were mistreated.

During the trial, the judge toured the zoo and her ruling described improperly cared for goats and rams, bears that were “a very sad sight to see” and a baboon that was “the saddest and scariest” animal there.

A telephone call to the zoo rang unanswered.

“The Sellners have shown no interest in rectifying problems by hiring informed staff, retaining a properly trained veterinarians and maintaining proper shelter,” the judge wrote in her order.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund said in a statement it would help transfer the animals to “reputable sanctuaries and rescues for rehabilitation.”

In earlier lawsuits, Cricket Hollow was ordered to give up its tigers and lemurs and, in a separate settlement, agreed to give up two African lionesses.

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