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Exotic animals found in Milwaukee came from zoo-loan program


MILWAUKEE (WSAU) Some of the exotic animals that were found in squalid conditions in Milwaukee this spring had been lent by zoos from around the country. The Journal Sentinel says at least 32 zoo reptiles were loaned to Terry Cullen, who is charged with a dozen counts of animal abuse and violating rules for endangered species.

Police were investigating allegations that Cullen sexually assaulted a woman from Chicago when they found 230 exotic animals at Cullen’s wildlife conservatory in May.

The paper said some of the animals had been loaned for decades, with very little oversight from the zoos which provided them. The reptiles included endangered Chinese alligators and crocodiles. They came from the Bronx Zoo in New York and zoos in Miami, Memphis, and Brownsville Texas. Steve Reichling of the Memphis Zoo said Cullen had “good credentials,” and they lent animals in the hopes they would thrive and breed.

The Bronx Zoo said Cullen misrepresented the location where he said he planned to keep its endangered Chinese alligators. Cullen’s lawyer, Anthony Cotton, said the zoo animals were largely in good health when they were seized – and those in poor health were sent to him that way.