HUTCHINSON, Kansas — The Association of Zoos and Aquariums again gives the Hutchinson Zoo its seal of approval.
Accredited now since 1997, the honor helps them provide care and shelter for its animals.
Recently, a rash of illegal exotic animal finds in Hutchinson has left the zoo with a special visitor.
The honor opens a series of what you might call ‘perks’ to the zoo.
“The network of professionals you get direct access to, many zoos are owned through the city’s parks department and that network of knowing the zoo industry isn’t within the city,” explains zoo director Jana Durham.
When one of their animals gets sick, it’s most likely not the specialty of your neighborhood vet.
Durham says, “There’s not vets around that work everyday with exotic animals so having resources is a great resource to have.”
Part of the zoo’s mission is to rehabilitate injured or sick animals and return them to the wild.
Their ability to care for exotic animals recently helped the Hutchinson Police Department when they took a five foot alligator into custody.
“In this line of work you just never know what you’re gonna get so it’s really not a big surprise,” says Lieutenant John Taylor.
Acting on a tip police found the alligator in a wooden crate in a garage.
In Hutchinson, exotic animals are illegal.
Lt. Taylor explains, “These animals grow, they get bigger and harder to handle and harder to deal with.”
Now, the city’s footing the bill for this alligator’s stay with the zoo.
“It’s not fair to the animal, to house them in a way that doesn’t suit their needs, from an environmental standpoint,” says Durham. “It’s just not a good idea ever.”
Police are working to find the alligator a new home, and its owner could face charges.
Recently, Hutchinson authorities found two four-foot pythons and a smaller alligator.