Lawsuit seeks permanent shutdown of troubled Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester

A trial seeking permanent closure of the troubled Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester is under way.

The lawsuit was filed by four state residents after years of seeking enforcement of state and federal animal treatment standards at the roadside zoo run by Pamela and Tom Sellner.

The trial in Delaware County District Court began last week (10/17) and after a tour of the zoo Judge Monica Wittig termed conditions at the facility "deplorable," according to a report in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald newspaper.

"I understand we've got seven days of trail, but what I saw today paints a picture 1,000 words can't describe," Wittig told the court, according to the newspaper account.

The lawsuit was filed by Tracey and Lisa Kuehl and Pamela J. Jones and Haley A. Anderson in September.

According to the lawsuit, the zoo has 200 animals "living in neglect" with the animals confined "without adequate food or water in small, dangerous cages" and without veterinary care or the fundamentals necessary to ensure their basic psychological health.

Specifically, the suit alleges the Sellners neglected the animals in violation of the Iowa Animal Neglect Law, seeks that the zoo be declared a public nuisance and that a permanent injunction be issued to remove the animals and prohibit the Sellners from obtaining other wild or exotic animals.

The Kuehls have sought to have the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture revoke the zoo's permits because of the documented animal neglect at the facility.

A earlier trial resulted in a federal court removing endangered animals (lemurs and lions) from the facility, but the zoo has continued to operate with non-endangered animals.

In emails obtained by,IDALS inspectors indicated they were biased against those who complained about conditions at the zoo, dismissing them as part of "the complaint crowd."

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