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Rescuers say 'many more' animals missing from Cricket Hollow roadside zoo

KCCI Des Moines logo KCCI Des Moines 12/10/2019
a sign on the side of a road: Rescuers say 'many more' animals missing from Cricket Hollow roadside zoo © Provided by KCCI Des Moines Rescuers say 'many more' animals missing from Cricket Hollow roadside zoo

More than 150 animals are recovering at the Animal Rescue of Iowa Tuesday after being rescued from the Cricket Hollow Zoo, but the ARL said its work is not done.

Elizabeth Putsche, with Animal Legal Defense Fund, said some animals kept at the zoo are missing.

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"Five grizzlies bears, two mountain lions, two macaws, a camel, a wolf, opossums, a fox, two ferrets, two large tortoises, four turtles, two pythons and many more," Putsche said.

Putsche said she is afraid the missing animals were given away, sold or are deceased.

"There is a field adjacent to the owners' property that they described as a compost pile where there are a number of animals bones of all species of animals," she said.

Volunteers from several agencies rescued the animals from Cricket Hollow Tuesday following a six-year investigation into the roadside zoo.

The rescue took around 18 hours and involved nearly 30 vehicles and 70 people.

The ARL is now caring for a total of 159 animals taken from the zoo, including 40 mice, 34 rats, 15 sheep, 12 rabbits, 11 raccoons, 10 geese, 10 chickens, 7 mini horses, 6 goats, 3 cats, 3 donkeys, 2 llamas, 2 goldfish, 1 turkey, 1 mule.

According to the ARL, the rescued animals were kept in small, dirty cages and had sores. Volunteers said the smell of the zoo made their eyes burn.

ARL of Iowa CEO Tom Colvin said that there were more dead animals living animals at the property.

"Saying that you love animals is not enough, and we are seeing it time and time and time again where people are thought to absolutely love animals but then we get in and we see filthy conditions, poor diets, dead and dying animals and it simply has to stop," Colvin said.

Colin Grace, director of Legal Initiatives at the ARL, said the fight is not over and that the ARL plans to put the pressure on Iowa lawmakers.

"Right now, in the Senate, we have House Bill 737 that can be passed out of committee, voted on by the Senate and sent to Gov. (Kim) Reynolds," Grace said.

Officials with the ARL said a lawsuit will be filed against the owner of Cricket Hollow.

Anyone with information regarding the animals missing from Cricket Hollow is asked to contact the ARL of Iowa at 515-262-9503.

Blank Park Zoo said in a statement Tuesday that it assisted with the rescue and will continue to provide care for nearly 20 animals and "several hissing cockroaches."

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