Complaint: Man admitted to releasing Baraboo zoo animals while drinking at local bar

BARABOO, Wis. — An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for an Indiana man charged in connection with a break-in at the Ochsner Park Zoo in Baraboo earlier this month.

Online court records show Aaron Wayne Hovis, 34, of West Lafayette, Indiana, faces nine counts of misdemeanor criminal damage to property.

RELATED: Indiana man identified in connection with Ochsner Park Zoo break-in

Police allege Hovis damaged locks on multiple exhibits and damaged a door of another during the June 7 incident.

Four animals — two otters and two owls — escaped during the break-in; as of Tuesday, all four have been caught and returned to the zoo.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Hovis, police identified him as a suspect after a bartender at a local Baraboo bar told officers a man admitted to setting the animals free when he stopped by the bar the day of the break-in.

The bartender reportedly told police Hovis had several double-shot drinks at the bar and started telling the bartender stories that she thought “seemed way out there” until Hovis told her he had “set a bunch of animals free” at the zoo.

That same day, officers talked with two women who know Hovis and confirmed he’s an over-the-road trucker who makes deliveries in states around Indiana. During their phone conversations with the Baraboo officer, both women said Hovis had told them on June 4 that he planned to break some animals out of a zoo. At one point, Hovis reportedly bragged over the phone to one of the women that he had “liberated animals from the zoo,” adding that it happened in Baraboo.

One of the women added that Hovis might have been using drugs as he had been acting erratically lately.

Roughly a week after Hovis broke into the zoo, officers with the Rensselaer Police Department in Indiana arrested the man on multiple warrants. During the arrest, Hovis reportedly said “I robbed a f***ing zoo just to prove this s***.” It’s unclear what Hovis was trying to prove by breaking into the zoo.