Click Here To Sign The Petition Demanding , Iowa Governor And It's Political Leaders Close Down The Cricket Hollow Zoo Immediately And Have The Animals Transferred To Facilities That Will Care For Them Properly
You might wonder why the U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps renewing the license for Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester.
After all, the privately owned roadside attraction has been cited for more than 100 violations over the past three years. Court records indicate three tigers died within 10 months of moving there. One of them wasn’t treated for cuts and sores on his face, or for a six-square-inch open wound on one leg.
Five lemurs died there between 2006 and 2011, and three piglets died shortly after being born outside, in the cold
The USDA has filed a formal complaint against the owners, Pam and Tom Sellner, as part of a move that could result in their license to operate being revoked. Yet it was only last May, on the same day the agency cited Cricket Hollow for 11 violations, that the USDA renewed the license for one year. It did so despite a federal law that says no license shall be issued to a zoo that fails to comply with minimum standards.
USDA officials say that law applies only to the initial issuance of a license, and renewals are automatically approved upon submission of an application and a fee.
Apparently, a USDA license to hold wild animals in captivity is nothing but a suitable-for-framing cash register receipt. It signifies nothing with regard to a zoo’s compliance with the law.
In fairness to the USDA, the agency temporarily suspended Cricket Hollow’s license in June, just 14 days after renewing it. But that only adds to the impression that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing: The USDA giveth, and the USDA taketh away.
Still, the feds seem far more vigilant than the inspectors who work for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. In May 2013, state inspector Doug Anderson emailed a colleague after visiting Cricket Hollow. In his email, later obtained by Greg Gackle of bettendorf.com, Anderson wrote: “We went to Cricket Hollow today for a pre-emptive strike on the upcoming complaint season,” adding that he talked to Pam Sellner “about her issues with the complaint crowd and she is well aware that they will probably be back and is making a conscious efforts to make her facility completely ready for their visits. I am sure they will complain anyway.”
If anyone did complain, they had good reason: In the two months following Anderson’s scornful email, USDA officials cited Cricket Hollow for 24 additional violations.
Anderson returned to Cricket Hollow in June 2014, shortly after the USDA cited the facility for 19 serious violations, including a lack of water and veterinary care for the animals. In his report, Anderson acknowledged the accuracy of the USDA’s concerns, but wrote in his report: “In my opinion, most of the issues come down to a good cleaning and a weekend of maintenance ... This facility will probably always have good days and bad days, and we caught it on a bad one this day.”
If his reports are any indication, Anderson should give up his job as a state inspector and sign on as Cricket Hollow’s official apologist.
Court records indicate the 300 animals at the zoo receive an average of just one minute of veterinary care per year, and total annual spending — for food and all other expenses — averages just $90 per animal. No wonder Cricket Hollow has been repeatedly cited for insufficient staff; hazardous cages; insect infestations; enclosures with standing water and deep mud; rotting food supplies; and water dishes contaminated with waste and algae.
This zoo needs to be shut down. Federal laws need to be revised so that habitual offenders aren’t assured of a license as long as they can pay the required fee.
As for Iowa’s state inspectors, they need to pull their heads out of the sand and recognize that when animals are neglected on their watch, “the complaint crowd” is well within its rights to raise hell.
Click On Any Image To Open Our Gallery Viewer