USDA charges Cricket Hollow Zoo owners with inadequate vet care of animals, refusing access

Owners of the troubled Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester, Iowa, now face new federal charges of inadequate veterinary care of their animals and "repeated failures to meet minimum standards for animal facilities and husbandry."

The complaint was filed July 30 in in Washington by the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The action could lead to revocation of the zoo's license, and without a federal license, the roadside zoo could no longer operate.

The facility obtained a federal license in 1999, and it has been routinely renewed by the USDA despite dozens of violations found by inspectors dating back to 2005.

The zoo is owned by Pamela J. and Thomas J. Sellner, who have been fined more than $10,000 for previous AWA violations.

"The allegations in this complaint involve animal deaths, the failure to obtain adequate veterinary care for animals, the repeated failure and/or refusal to provide access to USDA inspectors for the purpose of conducting inspections to determine compliance with the AWA and the Regulations and Standards, the failure to handle animals carefully, and repeated failures to meet the minimum standards for animal facilities and husbandry," according to the USDA complaint.

One of the incidents cited in the new complaint involved a tiger named Casper from August through October of last year.

On August 25, 2014, according to the USDA complaint, the zoo veterinarian reported Casper was thin, had cuts and sores on his face and legs.

". . . attending veterinarian did not make any diagnosis, recommend any treatment or prescribe any medication for Casper at the time," the USDA report says. "On Oct. 7, 2014, APHIS inspectors observed that Casper had a large open wound on the inside of his left front leg. The wound had not been treated in any matter."

"Casper was also observed to be thin, with mildly protruding hips and vertebrae," the complaint said. "Between Aug. 25, 2014 and Oct. 7, 2014, respondents have not had Casper seen by a veterinarian, and Casper received no veterinarian care, save respondents' administration of a dewormer in September, 2014," according to the USDA filing.

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