Animals at Baraboo Zoo missing, police say habitat locks were cut overnight

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The Baraboo Police Department announced Tuesday, June 7 that four animals were missing after one or more unidentified suspects broke into Ochsner Park Zoo overnight and cut the locks on the habitats.

Two great horned owls and two otters were lost. However, on Tuesday afternoon it was announced that the otters had been found unharmed by kayakers in a nearby river. The owls stay free.

At Shalom Wildlife Zoo in West Bend, co-owner David Fechter has devoted decades of his life to his passion.

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“We really love them and they love us,” he said. “When an animal is removed from a zoo or released, it’s like taking someone’s child.”

When he heard people breaking into the Ochsner Park Zoo more than 80 miles away, he was heartbroken – but sadly, not surprised.

“I saw it for the first time, and I just thought, ‘Not good’ and I’m not surprised,” he said.

The incident affects Fechter near his home. In 2021, a woman jumped over a fence, getting dangerously close to bobcats and bears. The incident prompted security changes at Shalom Wildlife Zoo.

Otter found after missing from Ochsner Park Zoo (Courtesy Baraboo Police Department)

“These people are doing more harm than good,” Fechter said.

He wants people to continue enjoying zoos as they should: “We want to give people a clean and healthy place where they can experience nature.”

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Ochsner Park Zoo was closed on Tuesday. It will reopen Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Police say the missing animals are not dangerous. However, if one is spotted, it is advised that no one touches it. If anyone sees the owls, please call the Baraboo Police Department at 608-356-4895.

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