Otters found, owls still missing from Ochsner Park Zoo after break-in, police say

BARABOO, Wis. — Police in Baraboo are searching for whoever broke into the Ochsner Park Zoo overnight and let multiple animals loose.

Police said during the break-in, the suspect or suspects cut locks off some of the zoo habitats.

When zookeeper Ellen Gallagher arrived at work Tuesday morning, two great-horned owls and two otters were missing.

“It was difficult for me to wrap my head around it right away because it’s not what you expect to find,” she said.

Two kayakers later spotted the otters — Moe and Mitch — in a river near the zoo and called officials.

Investigators believe whoever broke in wanted to set the animals free, but Gallagher said they cannot survive on their own in the wild.

“Letting the animal be free seems like it could be a good idea, but what it really could have done is sign their death certificate,” she said.

As of Tuesday night, searches for the owls have not brought them back to the zoo. Gallagher fears if they aren’t found soon, a different kind of panic will set in.

“Ours don’t know how to hunt, so what (will) probably end up happening is that if they are roosting in the area, the longer they go without food, the more weak they may get so they may come down to the ground,” she said.

In her 15 years as a zookeeper, Gallagher said she has never experienced anything of this nature.

“You never really think it’s going to be real… even though you discuss it as a safety or a drill maybe,” she said.



No dangerous animals were on the loose.

Police are asking anyone who sees the animals to call 608-356-4895. Do not touch the animals if you see them.