Thieves steal nearly $30,000 from Austin Zoo overnight

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary was burglarized overnight, according to Zoo Director Patti Clark.

Overnight thieves broke into the gift shop, stole the ATM and broke into the cash register. They also stole the surveillance camera, along with other electronics.

“There were papers everywhere. You can see the file cabinet here where it was pried open. It will no longer shut,” said Clark. “They took all of the money out of the donation jars. Literally took everything of value they could.”

Zoo staff discovered the break-in when they arrived at work on Friday morning.

Visitors were shocked to hear what had happened.

“I can’t believe it. That money was for the animals, to feed them and take care of them,” said one woman. “That’s the money they use. How are they going to pay for everything?”

The Austin Zoo is a nonprofit organization that relies on private donations, gate admissions, grants and sponsorships to care for the 300 animals they house.

Nearly $25,000 in merchandise was stolen or damaged, and $5,000 in cash was taken.

“That’s a sizable loss for us.,” said Clark. “It means things we’d be spending money on, as far as animals and stuff, it slows us down a bit.”

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating, looking into whether the thief could be someone who works at the zoo.

Right now, it’s not clear how many people were involved in the burglary.

The zoo, which was planning the public debut of their two new black bear cubs on July 4, is ready for a big holiday crowd.

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