Steven Trew, a 58-year-old man from Bonita Springs in Florida was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning for alledgedly breaking into the Everglades Wonder Gardens and freeing a large number of the animal exhibits.
It is being alledged that Trew used a hacksaw to break into the zoo by the back gate and then set about cutting the locks on cage doors, freeing a varied number of animals ranging from flamingoes and deer right up to potentially dangerous animals like wild cats and a boar.
Jack Wollman, an employee at the zoo arrived for his shift early in the morning and immediately realised that something was awry, as he explained to the Associated Press.
“It was pitch black,” Wollman told the AP. “Then I heard the flamingos and when you hear flamingos you know someone is there. I saw a guy by the barn area and chased him to the parking lot.”
Having caught Mr Trew in the act so to speak, Wollamn chased him into the parking lot and tackled him to the ground, detaining him until police arrived on the scene.
Trew has been charged with counts of burglary and property damage.
Mr Trew confessed to being highly intoxicated to the arresting officers, which I imagine came as no surprise to them.
Luckily, the majority of the animals (including all the potentially lethal ones) remained inside their cages despite the doors being open. However one of the deers who did escape was run down on a nearby parkway while another is still missing and unaccounted for.
The owner of the zoo, David Piper, has released a statement on the incident, saying that Mr. Trew’s actions stemmed from the 58-year-old’s anger and disappointment at the imminent closure of the Wonder Gardens scheduled for April 21st.
Trew is being held by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, with his bail currently set at $30,000.