Judge orders lioness exam by animal rights group vet; sets expedited trial on lion removal from zoo

A federal judge today (July 21) ordered the examination of a Cricket Hollow Zoo lioness and set an expedited trial date for August 1 to determine if the two African lions should be permanently removed from the roadside zoo.

In an unusual telephone hearing, Chief Judge Linda Reade of the U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids ordered the zoo allow a Colorado veterinarian with experience in the care of lions examine the lioness Njjarra.

In a video shot by a zoo visitor June 24 and submitted to the court, the lion was shown in an emaciated state. The visitor testified in his deposition to the court that he and his two children thought the lion was about to die and was too weak even to move into the shade of her enclosure.

In February, the court ruled the endangered tigers and lemurs at the facility were harmed by the poor care provided at the zoo and ordered their removal and placement in other zoos. Since that decision, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has classified African lions as endangered under the Animal Welfare Act. The new classification prompted the current lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ADLF) and five Iowa residents seeking removal and relocation of the lions.

The first lawsuit was filed in late 2014, the bench trial was held last October, and the judge's decision and order to remove the tigers and lemurs from the zoo was issued last February. The new lawsuit, which covers many of the same issues concerning care provided by the zoo, was filed last March.

Because of the apparent poor health of the lioness shown in the video, the ADLF sought the preliminary injunction to either remove the animal immediately from the zoo, or, that the court order a "certified veterinarian" examine the lioness to determine treatment for the lion.

Go to top