- Associated Press - Friday, December 22, 2017

LILBURN, Ga. (AP) - The private zoo that’s home to Georgia’s four-legged Groundhog Day forecaster has closed. The state Department of Natural Resources tells news outlets it will help find new homes for wildlife including the groundhog called General Beauregard Lee.

DNR officials say the Yellow River Game Ranch’s owner told them Wednesday that he’d closed the facility in Lilburn, 17 miles (28 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta.

The state agency did not shut the ranch down, and will begin working after Jan. 1 on what to do with wild animals, spokesman Mark McKinnon told news outlets. Yellow River officials will have to decide what to do with cows, goats and other farm animals, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution .

Pwner Codi Reeves hasn’t answered requests for comment, The newspaper reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had repeatedly cited the facility. However, it didn’t have any pending enforcement actions against it, said R. Andre Bell, a spokesman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

WSB-TV reports that “closed” signs were posted late last week.

Art Rilling, who created the facility with a few farm animals in Stone Mountain in 1962, told the station that attendance had dropped after complaints about animal welfare and cleanliness.

He told WXIA-TV the groundhog would be welcome on his property.


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