Some animals from closed Vegas zoo move to Phoenix

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Some of the animals edged out of a shuttered Las Vegas zoo found homes in a sunny spot not too far from home.

Two Patagonian cavies, two red-rumped agoutis and two Chinese alligators were transported from the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park last week and are now in a temporary quarantine at the Phoenix Zoo. Most will be released into the general zoo population once keepers ensure the critters are in good health.

"It's a feel-good thing where we'll help the Las Vegas zoo place the animals and we get the benefit of more animals to exhibit," said Drew Foster, animal curator at the Phoenix Zoo.

Las Vegas zoo director Pat Dingle told inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week that he wanted to close the facility after more than three decades. The USDA has been helping coordinate with other zoos to find homes for the animals.

Reasons for the closure weren't clear, but it came after an unspecified complaint was filed with the USDA. A report about the inspection that followed the complaint hasn't yet been released.

The Phoenix Zoo already has one Patagonian cavy, which resembles a cross between a rabbit and a deer.

"It'll be good to have more than one cavy," Foster said.

The Phoenix Zoo previously owned a Chinese alligator, which is critically endangered and is the only living alligator species besides the much larger American alligators.

One of the two alligators the zoo received from Las Vegas was on loan from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida, and is being sent back there.

As of June, the Las Vegas zoo's collection also included four apes, 11 wallabies, some rodents and a puma. USDA officials, who are on furlough amid the government shutdown, were unavailable for comment Friday about the whereabouts of the other zoo animals.

Phoenix gets alligator from now-closed Las Vegas Zoo

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