Pamela and Thomas Sellner

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners ordered to pay $70,000 or serve jail time for violating court order

The owners of Manchester’s Cricket Hollow Zoo have been ordered to pay $70,000 or serve five months in jail for violating court orders regarding the relocation of animals at their roadside attraction.

The ruling this week in the contempt-of-court case against Pamela and Thomas Sellner comes three days after the Iowa Supreme Court declined to review a lower court decision in the case that led to zoo’s closure in 2019.

In that case, a group of Iowans assisted by animal rights advocates sued the Sellners, alleging numerous violations of Iowa’s animal neglect laws. A judge ruled in their favor and effectively ordered the zoo closed with many of the animals to be relocated to wildlife sanctuaries in other states.

READ MORE from the Iowa Capital Dispatch

A decade after initial animal welfare violations and two years of legal proceedings, USDA revokes Cricket Hollow Zoo license, fines owners $10,000

A decade after animal welfare violations were initially documented and more than two years of legal proceedings, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revoked the license of Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester, Iowa, and fined owners Thomas and Pamela Sellner $10,000.

The USDA decision announced November 30 would appear to spell the end of operations at the troubled facility since the zoo must have a USDA license to continue to operate.

Group seeks emergency court order to remove African lions from troubled roadside zoo

An Iowa man visiting the Cricket Hollow Zoo with his two children June 24 says in court documents one of the roadside zoo's two lions "was in such a terrible condition that both children and myself feared that she would die at any moment."

"We didn't need to get too close to her cage to know that there was something terribly wrong with her, because she just stood in one corner of her cage shivering even though she was in direct sunlight," Jeff Marlin, of Hiawatha, Iowa, testified in a court filing seeking immediate removal of the now-endangered animals from the troubled zoo near Manchester.

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