- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Animals from the “mall zoo” at Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines will be moved to new homes this weekend.

A judge denied a bid by Pella Wildlife Co. to regain control of the animals from the city and move them to a new location with Ron DeArmond, Pella Wildlife’s chief operating officer.

The Academy of Wildlife Education, managed by Pella Wildlife, closed Oct. 31 after public outcry about housing the bears, wolves and other wild animals in the mall, according to the Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1zVOhUD ).

Concerns were raised in court Wednesday, among them whether DeArmond’s employees could properly transport and care for the animals, where he would place the animals, whether he had enough money to care for them and why he did not file an appeal.

“I don’t doubt he cares for his animals,” said Sgt. James Butler, chief human officer with the Des Moines Police Department. “I don’t think he has the capacity to take care of them now.”

The animals will be moved to Blank Park Zoo, the Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado and the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.

Since the animals were placed under the city’s care earlier this month, the Blank Park Zoo has been caring for the animals at the mall, costing the zoo $1,000 a day.

DeArmond said there was a multi-acreage area in Indianola where he planned on housing the animals if the court order was approved. However, Butler raised concerns about the location, saying he only saw a house and outhouses.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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