Ten years after Animal Welfare Act violations surfaced, USDA reaches 'consent decision' to revoke Cricket Hollow Zoo license

More than 10 years after Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations began surfacing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reached a 'consent decision' Friday (April 10) to permanently revoke the Cricket Hollow Zoo license.

The order filed last Friday in Washington, D.C. came four months to the day when workers removed nearly 100 animals from the facility after a Delaware County District Court ordered the troubled roadside zoo closed.

Official USDA inspection records from June 2007 through the most recent inspection July 16, 2019 detailed 230 observed violations of the Animal Welfare Act. A total of 108 of those were repeated violations with seven classified as "direct" violations – meaning the health and safety of the animal was immediately at risk.

The consent decision between USDA and Cricket Hollow owners Pamela and Tom Sellner not only revokes the zoo's USDA license but prohibits the couple from ever applying for any other AWA license.

The order ends a lengthy legal proceeding dating back to July 2015 when the USDA filed suit against the zoo charging the owners with inadequate veterinary care of the animals and "repeated failures to meet minimum standards for animal facilities and husbandry."

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed suit on behalf of five Iowa residents against the zoo in state court, leading to the order closing the facility.

The roadside zoo was found in violation of Iowa animal cruelty standards last November by the Delaware County District Court judge, who ordered removal of the exotic animals from the facility. The Sellners asked the Iowa Supreme Court to stay the removal order, but the high court denied the request December 4.

The ALDF on behalf of Iowa residents also had sued in federal court to force the removal of endangered animals – two tigers and three lemurs – from the facility in 2016.

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