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Las Vegas Zoo closing its doors for good

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Las Vegas Zoo closing its doors for good

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Sep 24, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Contact 13 has learned the Las Vegas Zoo will be shutting down for good.

The move comes just days after a formal complaint was filed with the United States Department of Agriculture following the exodus of the zookeeping staff who all quit within the last two weeks.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been exposing conditions at the zoo since 2009.

USDA inspectors and City of Las Vegas Animal Control were at the zoo Tuesday morning to check on the animal since there are no more trained zookeepers on staff. Though their formal report won't be available for a few more weeks, they did confirm that there are concerns about what the animals are eating. 

After Zoo Director Pat Dingle was essentially given an ultimatum by federal officials, he agreed to formally close the zoo. Part of the agreement involved him getting food Tuesday after concerns were raised about how much of the animals have been fed since Friday.  

That's when the last of three zookeepers quit and the zoo closed, posting a sign that they were upgrading. It's clear now that there was no upgrade in progress. When asked what the animals have been eating since Friday, the USDA says they have no idea.

Dingle, along with the USDA and others are now actively working to find homes for the animals.

"Bless USDA for stepping up to the plate here and doing the right thing. So often we criticize them. They did a fabulous job this time. But we have an awful lot of work to do. I'm working on trying to find a place for the chimp. He's gonna be the hardest one of all to place," said Linda Faso, an animal welfare advocate.

Some of the animals on loan to Las Vegas from other zoos will likely go back to those facilities. Other city zoos and sanctuaries will be contacted as well.

The USDA can only work on this as long as Pat Dingle keeps his exhibitors license. If he gives it up, they lose jurisdictions.

Since last Friday, Dingle has refused to talk to Action News.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.