Zoo closure prompts concern about animal welfare - WNEM TV 5

Zoo closure prompts concern about animal welfare

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Some of the animals spotted on Tuesday when FOX5 visited the closed Southern Nevada Zoo. (FOX5) Some of the animals spotted on Tuesday when FOX5 visited the closed Southern Nevada Zoo. (FOX5)

The Southern Nevada Zoo is closed, and it's uncertain if it will ever open again.

Many zookeepers have left their jobs, according to a former employee, who said the zoo is in trouble.

Zoo officials aren't talking. No one is answering the main phone line and there is no message addressing the issue on the zoo's website.

Visitors aren't being notified until they arrive at the zoo's entrance. A sign posted there says, "The zoo is closed to the public while we upgrade."

Ashley Scolari was particularly taken aback by the zoo's closure. She had been an intern there and recently served as a volunteer.

"I got to feed MG, the lion, for the shows on the weekends when we had massive tours. I was able to feed her meat through the bars," she said.

Scolari is now worried about the health of the animals because so many zookeepers have abandoned their jobs.

"If you look at the zoo, like San Diego, they have such a large amount of donations. No one cares about the [Southern Nevada] Zoo. People say the zoo is horrible. That's because you are not helping," Scolari said.

The zoo is privately owned by Pat Dingle. Dingle did not return FOX5's phone calls in preparation for this story on Tuesday.

When FOX5 visited the zoo on Tuesday, we spotted several animals inside, such as a flamingo and a goat. We didn't see any staff members.

FOX5 did manage to speak with one employee of the zoo. She said an announcement concerning the future of the zoo is forthcoming.

The Southern Nevada Zoo, located on Rancho Drive near Lake Mead Boulevard, has been open for 30 years. It's the only zoo in Las Vegas and the only year-round zoo in Nevada.

Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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