Petting Zoo Animals Killed

The owner at the Lost River Ranch are still trying to figure out why, and who would do something like this to defenseless animals.

The vet who treated some of the animals said based on rigor mortis, he thinks the deaths occurred Monday night between 10pm and midnight.

"There were three dead rabbits in here, one about here, over there and over here," said Sabrina Hayes, the manager of the Ranch, as she described what she saw when she came into work.

Lost River Ranch houses animals for the mobile petting zoo, Zoo 2 You.

They're animals whose soul purposed is to bring joy to people.

On this day, however, there is little joy to be found.

"The way it's bent out, it looks like somebody kicked it," said Hayes as she points to a gate latch that had been bent.

Hayes said it must have been a person who killed the animals, because not only did they have to unlatch several gates but most of the dead animals were found outside their locked cages.

"The vet found broken bones and broken necks, so they were killed and strewn about," said Hayes.

In all, seven rabbits and one wallaby are dead.

Other animals, including a male wallaby and some European Fallow Deer are missing.

"You can see, even injured, he's just as gentle can be," said Hayes as she scratched the head of a pot-belly pig who had been stabbed, "All of the animals here, that's what their purpose was, to be gentle."

"I can't imagine why anybody would want to kill a bunch of animals that would have just walked up to them and licked them," said Ron Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse and his 16-year-old daughter operate Zoo 2 You, and raised many of the animals from birth making sure they would be well mannered.

"Obviously real sad, and yeah I guess you'd say a little bit of anger also," explained Rittenhouse, "I don't understand, it's kind of senseless [to do that] to a defenseless animal."

While the day started out in tragedy, there was at least some good news to report.

One of the missing fallow deer, Elaine, was found and returned to her pen.

That doesn't erase the fact, however, there was still a lot of heartache and frustration around the ranch.

Rittenhouse said, "if you really want to prove how tough you are, why not try somebody that would give you some sort of challenge? But a defenseless animal, that's just a coward."

The owners at the Lost River Ranch, which also boards horses, say they will now install a video surveillance system.

Also, a reward is being offered to anyone with information which leads to an arrest.

The Wichita County Sheriff's Office is investigating, and if you have any information you're asked to call them at 766-8170

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