Otters found, owls still missing after Baraboo zoo break-in
BARABOO, Wis. (WMTV) - Two of the animals that went missing from the Ochsner Park Zoo following an overnight break-in have been located and are back home again - but the Great Horned Owls that also disappeared have still not been found.
The Baraboo Police Department reported in an update Tuesday that kayakers had spotted the missing river otters and notified authorities, who were able to come pick up the animals. The police department shared a picture of one of the otters in a cage, ready to return to its habitat.
Earlier Tuesday, the Baraboo Police Department explained two Great Horned Owls and two otters disappeared for after the suspect or suspects got into the zoo and cut the locks of some habitats. The statement did not indicate whether investigators believe the animals were stolen or if they escaped on their own.
“The police investigation is ongoing, but what they have determined is that they do think that the primary motivation was to release the animals,” Ochsner Park Zoo specialist Ellen Gallagher said.
Gallagher said multiple other cages were opened when staff arrived at the zoo Tuesday morning, but the animals in these cages were still present.
“When I first came in this morning, it was a lot of panic, but we had to kind of control that in order to make sure that the animals were safe and everybody was accounted for and assessed the damage,” Gallagher said. “My biggest emotion, I think, was fear for the animals.”
Police Chief Rob Sindon emphasized in a widely shared Facebook that no dangerous animals are on the loose; he even noted that the otters are “very friendly.”
Baraboo’s parks department closed the zoo for the day in the wake of the break-in. It is expected to reopen on Wednesday.
The police statement did not say if any other property was damaged or taken.
Anyone with information about the missing animals is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency number – 608-356-4895 – which will get in touch the zoo personnel who will need to respond.
“The animals that had escaped were not, they’re not really going to do well in the wild. They’ve lived in captivity almost their whole life,” Gallagher said.
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