Federal judge orders Cricket Hollow Zoo to give up its tigers, lemurs; cites inadequate care, sanitation

Cricket Hollow Zoo has been ordered to transfer its lemurs and tigers to a licensed U.S. Department of Agricultural facility under a federal district court ruling issued Thursday (2/11).

The judge ruled that the endangered animals at the troubled roadside zoo were harmed by the failure of its owners to provide adequate veterinary care and sanitation.

The zoo owners, Tom and Pamela Sellner, also are prohibited from "acquiring any additional animals on the endangered species list, without first demonstrating an ability to care for the animals," under the ruling by Chief Magistrate Judge Jon Stuart Scoles of the U.S. Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

The case was brought against the zoo by Tracey and Lisa Kuehl, three other individuals and the Animal Legal Defense Fund in June 2014. The bench trial was held last October.

The transfer of the zoo's lemurs and tigers is to be completed within 90 days.

Judge Scoles' ruling said the "social isolation, lack of environmental enrichment and inadequate sanitation provided to the lemurs constitutes 'harassment' within the 'taking' provision of the Endangered Species Act," and he concluded the tigers "were 'harmed' by the inadequate veterinary care and 'harassed' by the failure to provide adequate sanitation."

The roadside zoo has been cited for dozens of Animal Welfare Act violations over the years and the owners were fined more than $10,000 by the USDA for the inadequate care at the facility between 2011 and 2013.

The license of the zoo was suspended for 21 days last June after the zoo failed to correct sanitation conditions at the facility. The USDA late last year filed suit against the zoo to revoke its federal license.That case is still pending in before the USDA's administrative court in Washington, D.C.

CLICK HERE to download the court ruling.

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