Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 6, 2013

Animal park could be target again

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Authorities are still looking into a weekend incident at a Wynnewood area park they believe could have been orchestrated by a small group of animal rights activists.

Officials at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park have drawn their own conclusions; that a couple of extreme activists killed a small animal and apparently blamed the park itself as a way to discredit the attraction located west of Wynnewood.

Although there’s still more to learn, Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes confirmed one of his deputies were called to the park in the late morning hours Sunday on the call of a disturbance.

“We believe a group of animal rights extremists were causing a disturbance,” Rhodes said on Monday.

“This is not the first reported instance where this park has been targeted by persons associated with animal rights extremism,” he said.

“This is an ongoing investigation that will be fully investigated, so I can’t release much right now.”

Park manager John Renke has no doubts about what happened — two people came to the park, intentionally killed a chinchilla and blamed it on the park.

“We had a couple come to the park and they killed a chinchilla and said we had done it,” Renke said.

“A customer said they heard them saying the chinchilla died because it didn’t have any food or water,” he said. “The customer heard them saying this to the camera they were using. They were filming themselves.”

Renke said “stuff like that doesn’t happen at the park” because he claims the animals do receive the proper care.

According to Renke, the two unknown people were standing next to the park’s gift shop when the incident took place. Along with the dead animal a second chinchilla was found alive.

“The customer says they were crying and carrying on that we had killed it,” Renke said. “I haven’t seen what they filmed but I’m sure it will surface.

“There are people trying to discredit us all the time.”

County investigators are in the process of reviewing video and other evidence obtained during the incident, according to the sheriff.

Rhodes added he was in contact Monday morning with the Federal Bureau of Investigation about this incident.