Bonita Springs, Florida (News-Press) -- It's just one more tale in the long history of the Everglades Wonder Gardens.
Bonita Springs man -- frustrated the historic site is closing soon -- broke into the zoo, cut the locks on almost every cage and set many
animals free sometime early Monday morning.
Lee County Sheriff's Office arrested Steven Trew, 58, for burglary and
damage to the property. Several of the animals broke free but didn't
leave the grounds. One deer, however, was struck by a motorcycle and
killed on Imperial Parkway. One deer was found after several hours.
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rest of the creatures never left the zoo property and were returned to
their cages by zoo staff, according to owner David Piper.
animal cages were cut, and the wood that held the locking mechanism on
the back north gate was sawed. The damage to the property and loss of
the deer is estimated at $1,400, according to the sheriff's office.
Jack Wollman said he arrived at the Everglades Wonder Gardens at 5 a.m.
Monday and found the back gate sawed open. When he got inside he
noticed deer, pigs and birds were out of their cages.
first thought was the mountain lion because she is the most dangerous
animal in here," Wollman said. "Luckily none of the dangerous animals
got out. The mountain lion cage was wide open, but she never left."
Wollman said he called Piper and then went to investigate.
was pitch black," Wollman said. "Then I heard the flamingos, and when
you hear flamingos you know someone is there. I saw a guy by the barn
area and chased him to the parking lot. He tried to take off on his
bike. When I got near him he started swinging at me. I wasn't going to
let him get away. I just tackled him."
Wollman held Trew until deputies arrived.
heard we were closing, and he wanted to set the animals free," Wollman
said. "What kind of an idiot would let a mountain lion out right in the
middle of Bonita Springs?"
Surveillance footage showed Trew entering the facility, carrying bolt cutters, according to the sheriff's office.