Cricket Hollow Zoo faces criminal investigation over treatment of lion removed from Manchester facility

An animal rights group has asked the Delaware County Sheriff to file criminal animal cruelty charges against the Cricket Hollow Zoo owners over care of a lioness rescued from the roadside facility near Manchester, Iowa last August.

"Jonwah is in good hands now, but what happened to her at Cricket Hollow is clearly against the law," Stephen Wells, Executive Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, stated in a news release issued by the organization November 17. "The ALDF is hopeful that law enforcement will take this evidence seriously and hold Cricket Hollow Animal Park to the standards of Iowa law."

The lioness and a second lion, Njjarra, were removed from the zoo August 1 after a federal court judge ordered the zoo owners – Tom and Pamela Sellner – to permit an examination of the animals by a qualified veterinarian.

Under terms of the lawsuit settled by the court, the lions were later transferred to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.

"According to a veterinarian who conducted a thorough medical evaluation of Jonwah, her emaciation, including visible bones and vertebrae, was likely caused by extreme hunger and dehydration, which the ALDF believes violates Iowa criminal animal neglect law," the legal advocacy group's alleged in the news release.

"In fact, due to the Sellners' failure to provide Jonwah with food and water as Iowa's cruelty law requires, the lioness resorted to eating the hay in her enclosure," the ADLF claimed in its statement. Only emergency treatment by the sanctuary veterinarian of the lion's severe intestinal blockage was the animal's life saved, according to the ADLF.

According to an article Dec. 25 in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere has forwarded evidence of the alleged neglect to the Delaware County Attorney’s Office to see if charges are warranted against the Sellners. LeClere told the Gazette the county prosecutor has asked him to gather further information.

Go to top