Troubled eastern Iowa zoo cited for three Animal Welfare Act violations by USDA inspectors

A troubled eastern Iowa zoo near Manchester has been cited for three more Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations stemming from an attempted inspection of the facility in February and a weather-shortened inspection in March by U.S. Agriculture Department veterinarians.

Since November 2010, Cricket Hollow Zoo has been cited by USDA inspectors for 105 indirect AWA violations and five direct violations – the most severe non-compliance issue defined as having a high potential to adversely affect the health and well-being of the animal. In May 2013, the USDA fined the zoo nearly $7,000 for repeated violations of the animal welfare act between August 2011 and February 2013.

In contrast, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) inspectors, who often accompanied the USDA inspectors, have not cited the zoo for any animal welfare compliance issues over that same period and have continued to state in their inspection reports that "no conditions exist which would cause adverse health or suffering."

USDA and IDALS inspectors tried to inspect the zoo February 19, but "no responsible adult" was present to accompany them as required. That, in itself, is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act. USDA officials would not say who was present at the zoo tending to the animals, only that the zoo owners Pamela and Tom Sellner, were not present.

The zoo, located on the couple's farm, has dozens of animals including five tigers, one puma, three lions, four baboons, two North American black bears, a camel, two coyotes, 33 sheep, one bobcat and 11 non-human primates (four Hamadryas Baboons, two lemurs, one Vervet monkey, two Greater Bushbaby monkeys and two Rhesus Macaque monkeys).

The USDA and IDALS inspectors returned March 4 but frigid weather limited their review of the zoo to "indoor housing facilities, animal health, feeding, watering and shelter," according to USDA report.

The latest non-compliance issues at the zoo were for allowing "build-up of food waste, hair, grime and/or animal waste" in the enclosure housing the Vervet (monkey) and allowing "severe build-up of food waste, soiled bedding and/or animal waste within the enclosure" housing 24 degus (Chilean rodents).

"The waste and soiled bedding visible along the glass enclosure walls is caked on to the side the enclosure and is several inches thick," the USDA inspectors reported on the degus' enclosure. "There is a thin layer of grime, dirt and/or waste covering the inside walls of the enclosure. The enclosure is made of clear glass and this layer of direct, grime or and/or waste makes it difficult to see into the enclosure."

The state inspection report had this to say about the degus' enclosure: "The inside animals were fine health-wise. We did notice that the dagu aquarium had a build-up of packed bedding/manure/chewed feed in one corner, especially. There was a layer of fresh bedding on top and the animals appeared clean and content."

CLICK HERE for USDA February 19 inspection report on Cricket Hollow Zoo.

CLICK HERE for USDA March 4 inspection report on Cricket Hollow Zoo.

CLICK HERE for Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship March 4 inspection report on Cricket Hollow Zoo.

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