Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 22, 2013

Animal case still has unknowns

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Both county and even federal authorities are still looking into an unusual incident possibly led by animal rights activities at a Wynnewood area park.

Questions still remain about what exactly happened and why as officials at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park have stated they believe a couple of extreme activists killed a small animal more than two weeks ago as a way of discrediting the park.

Still nothing has apparently been publicly released showing the incident was done as an actual protest of the animal park located west of Wynnewood.

Looking into these questions are the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation taking the lead.

In fact, Sheriff Larry Rhodes said this week an FBI agent has spoken with the park owner and continues to pursue interviews in the case.

“We have been in close contact with the FBI,” Rhodes said. “They have taken the lead in conducting interviews.”

One advantage to that is the FBI has better access to some individuals being interviewed since some don’t live in Oklahoma, including those at the center of the park’s controversy.

“The person identified as being responsible, we know he’s from out of state. We can’t release his name at this time,” the sheriff said.

“We have ID’d the person and people with him. We’ve also ID’d the person who left the live chinchilla.”

A park official said two people came to the park on Sunday, Aug. 4, intentionally killed a chinchilla and blamed it on the park. At the same time they left a second chinchilla with this one still alive.

They claim the people were using some sort of camera to document the incident possibly as a way to discredit the park. So far nothing from the reported filming has been released.

“Nothing has surfaced to discredit the park,” Rhodes said. “We haven’t seen anything on the Internet.”

Even though the sheriff adds he doesn’t believe this incident was some sort of organized protest, he is well aware the park has in the past been targeted by animal rights groups.

“I would say he’s been targeted before,” he said in a reference to Joe Schreibvogel of the park.

“We’re trying to figure out if this was a continuation of past incidents or something new.

“We’re still pursuing it as a violation of a state or federal law. I’m confident at some point we’ll get this cleaned up.”