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Scatter Joy Acres gets seized animals back, and no charges will be filed
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Scatter Joy Acres gets seized animals back, and no charges will be filed

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Scatter Joy Acres at 4966 Newport Ave.

The newest exhibit is now open at the Omaha Zoo giving visitors an up close experience with sea lions.

The citations against the Scatter Joy Acres petting zoo have been dropped, and the nine animals seized by the Nebraska Humane Society have been returned.

The animals were returned to the petting zoo at 4966 Newport Ave. on Friday.

Omaha City Prosecutor Matt Kuhse said Scatter Joy meets the definition of a zoo and thus meets the exemption in city ordinance that allows the housing of nondomesticated animals.

“There’s no legal reason, since no charges are being filed, that these animals need to be kept away,” he said.

Tim Heller, board member and spokesman for Scatter Joy, said the organization is appreciative of the support it has received since the animals’ removal was made public.

The animals taken on Aug. 24 are a porcupine, seven Patagonian cavies (which look like jackrabbits and are native to Argentina) and a coatimundi (a mammal that looks like a cross between a cat and a raccoon and is native to the Americas).

Kuhse said any disputes that remain would be considered regulatory and would be handled through the permits that Scatter Joy has received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Heller said the organization is sorting out whether it will need to make any changes.

“We anticipate researching some of those things, and we’ll take it as it comes,” he said.

Pam Wiese, spokeswoman for the Humane Society, said the animals were  kept at an undisclosed location.

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Connor Henning’s mom says the 4-year-old with cerebral palsy has developed a strong bond with a porcupine named Aquilla at Scatter Joy Acres. Aquilla and eight other animals were seized by the Nebraska Humane Society on Aug. 24. “I’ve watched the relationship develop over the last year, the gentleness, the compassion, the love that Aquilla has,” said mom Jenny.

Among those eager to have the animals back are Jenny Henning and her 4-year-old son, Connor, who has cerebral palsy and a profound brain injury.

Developmentally, Connor is like a 1-year-old, his mother said, and he’s bonded with Aquilla, the farm’s bottle-raised porcupine.

“When Connor connects with something, it’s very rare, so we’re very excited,” she said.

Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email: nancy.gaarder@owh.com

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