- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines officials have taken charge of more than 30 animals - including three black bears, wolves and a cougar - that had been on display at a now-closed controversial “mall zoo.”

Polk County deputies executed a writ of removal to evict Pella Wildlife Co. and its owner, Ron DeArmond, from the mall this week, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1uBJxyN ) Saturday. The organization had operated the Academy of Wildlife at the mall until closing its doors in October.

Police Sgt. James Butler, the department’s chief humane officer, said 32 animals occupy the premises. All appeared to be healthy and were in their cages, he said. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the Blank Park Zoo are assisting with the case.

DeArmond has seven days to relocate the animals to a habitat that meets all state laws and city ordinances. He is also responsible for the animals’ transportation to a new location, Butler said. If DeArmond is unable to move the animals within seven days, they will be turned over to the zoo and the Animal Rescue League, which will keep searching for a suitable habitat for them.

A phone listing for a Ron DeArmond in Pella, Iowa, rang unanswered Saturday.

The animals will be sheltered at the mall under the care of zoo employees until a new location is found, Butler said.

Butler said 30 of the animals require permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship and the Department of Natural Resources to be within city limits. Butler said DeArmond does have valid permits from the state DNR, but was unable to provide the other permits during the eviction process. Butler said DeArmond insisted he has valid permits.

Charges could be filed against DeArmond if he does not have the proper permits, Butler said.

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

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