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Scatter Joy Acres has become the target of vandalism

Director worries about the animals' safety
Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 22, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A local petting zoo has recently become the target of vandalism. Scatter Joy Acres Executive Director Joy Bartling told us that nearby residents have been driving recklessly on the dirt roads surrounding the zoo — almost running guests off the road.

Bartling said employees have confronted some of the individuals who had also jumped the fence and tried to walk into the zoo without paying, but they didn't stop.

"Padlocks were cut and gates were left open for our animals to be able to free-roam if they wanted. Luckily, our animals are pretty well cared for and they’re like 'Why would we want to go anywhere' and didn’t go anywhere. A couple nights ago, someone which we have on camera, came up to our property, took one of our UTVs and stole it," Bartling said.

The stolen UTV has been recovered, but they worry about the safety of the animals.

"There’s a lot of harm that can be done. We have dogs that keep the animals safe at night and they’re out on the perimeter. They can throw a piece of steak that has poison in it, they can hurt one of our animals, our animals can get out, they can end up on Sorenson Parkway and get hit by a car or a pickup," Bartling said.

The police have been notified of these incidents. OPD informed 3 News Now that an investigation is ongoing, but Bartling said she'd rather deal with the situation without the department.

"If these individuals would like to come forward and let us know what they’ve done, that is what we are here for. We are here to help with their attitudes, their behaviors, that’s part of our animal-assisted therapy program. It’s way better than me publicly turning in the four cameras that we have them on," Bartling said.