Sunday, July 16, 2017

Alabama: Mobile Zoo employee Lori Wolting, 55, ran off with a bunch of animals as the USDA was investigating, say police

ALABAMA -- A former employee of the now defunct Mobile Zoo posted a $13,000 bond and was released from Mobile County Jail on Thursday evening.

55-year-old Lori Wolting of Theodore was arrested on July 5 and charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty.

Court documents revealed the charges stemmed from Wolting taking 13 animals from the Mobile Zoo when she left back in February.

The documents listed the animals as a African Gray Parrot, a male Parakeet, a female Parakeet, two Chickens (Male Pullets), two Hens, four Gerbils, one female ring-tailed Lemur and one male rhesus Macaque Monkey.

In a sworn affidavit approved on May 8, Mobile County Animal Control officer Michael Crabtree stated the animals were re-homed to Wolting at 7561 Tung Avenue in Theodore around February 21.

That was at the same time the MCAC launched their investigation into the Mobile Zoo and its operator John Hightower.

Crabtree stated that Wolting had taken two ring-tailed Lemurs and two Rhesus Macaque Monkeys. He said one monkey died under Wolting's care possibly due to anesthesia or tranquilizers used when the animals were transported.

Crabtree said under Wolting's care the monkeys became high-risk asymptomatic carriers of the Herpes B virus.

A former graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Stephanie Jett was involved in primate research at the Mobile Zoo until 2011. She studied the Rhesus Macaque Monkeys in a behavioral and cognitive in nature while she was there.

She said the monkeys currently in Wolting's care never took a blood test for the Herpes B virus during her stint at the zoo. She said the majority of Rhesus Macaque Monkeys are carriers from birth.

"The fact is that the vast majority of macaques are asymptomatic carriers of the herpes B virus," said Jett. "So the likelihood he is positive is higher than the likelihood of him being negative."

However, Jett said the monkey did appear to shed, meaning he was showing outward signs of having the virus while she did research at the zoo.

"He developed sores around his mouth and other parts of his body," said Jett. "We used extreme caution dealing with him during those times just in case as the virus is deadly to humans in 70% of the cases."

Jett said the Herpes B virus is incredibly infectious. Humans can contract the virus by having an animals saliva come in contact with an open wound.

"If you come in contact with their blood or any of their bodily fluid you can get infected," said Jett. "That's why we were so vehemently about her not being in possession of them. She's not qualified to have them and you don't have macaque's as pets. She had them in her house at close contact."

After Hightower's arrest, Wolting left the zoo and set out to launch a new project with animals called, "The Helping Hands Sanctuary."

Hightower plead guilty to 14 of the 28 counts of animal cruelty charges against him on May 18. He was fined and given two years of informal probation.

Along with Wolting, court documents show that another man, Larry Lee Wolting, 52, was arrested on July 5 and charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty.

Court documents list Larry as a co-defendant in Lori's case.

Mobile District Court Judge Jill Phillips set the bond at $1,000 for each count of animal cruelty for both defendants.

Mobile County Jail records show that Larry was able to post his $13,000 bond on Thursday (July 6) evening as well.

Both defendants have a hearing set in Mobile District Court on July 20.

Full Name: Lori Anne Wolting
Date: 07/05/2017
Gender: Female
Race: White
Arrest Location: Mobile County, Alabama

Full Name: Larry Lee Wolting
Date: 07/05/2017
Gender: Male
Race: White


#1 The animals have no room. Its dirty. The exhibits are falling apart. I dont know how they have been in business this long. The birds are in tiny cages in a hot hallway. Many of them are pulling all their feathers out. Do not go here. Its a sad place. I hurt for these animals.

#2 This place is a disgrace and it is sad that the people working there believe the B.S. that they are trained to say. I am proud to say that I am doing more than writing a nasty yelp review to make sure this place has the proper authorities come in and see the mistreatment. When we asked the zoo director where the water was for the bears his response was "what are you an inspector?"

 Giving that kind of sass instead of pointing to the place where water would have been would have been a normal response if the water was actually in the habitat with them. They said that the water for each animal is fastened in a tube like you would have for a hamster cage. This would be adequate if these were hamsters- but they are large cats and bears that need more than a drip each time they are thirsty.

( - July 7, 2017)