“It makes me sick to my stomach:” Animal Gardens lynx theft was an inside job, investigators say

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DELAVAN -- It was an inside job, investigators say. A former employee of Animal Gardens is suspected of being behind the theft of two exotic animals worth thousands of dollars.

The lynx are catching up on sleep after a stressful week

"They were hungry a little stressed," Animal Gardens Caretaker Danette Vincenti said.

Mogley and Blue, a pair of seven-week-old Siberian lynx are finally back home, after being snatched from Animal Gardens on Monday, July 3rd.

"I'm ecstatic. I really am. I'm really happy they are back," Vincenti said.

Animal Gardens entrance sign

58-year-old Loren Wiseman, who had recently resigned, was allegedly part of the heist. He was arrested Thursday, July 6th and faces charges of being party to theft of the animals.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," Vincenti said.

"I was completely blown away. I would have never suspected one of my most trusted would have been the brains behind the whole seizure," Dana Montana, Animal Gardens owner said.

Loren Wiseman

Montana said she was contacted by Wiseman's female friend, who was supposedly in a truck that was captured by surveillance cameras when the cats were taken.

Wiseman's friend was supposedly in a truck that was seen on surveillance when the cats were taken

He apparently called her and said he was leaving Wisconsin, and he wanted to give her a gift before he left. She came that night and he told her the kittens were her gift, so she said "Oh OK, I'll take them."

After seeing on the news that the lynx were in fact stolen, Montana said the woman returned them.

"She called me hysterical saying 'wait a minute! I didn't steal! These were a gift and I don't want to go to jail.' I knew that he had manipulated this whole scheme, so I called the police," Montana said.

Mogley and Blue are back home safe at Animal Gardens

"He's been around exotics before and knew the value of them, so I believe his intentions were to take them to Virginia and sell them there," Vincenti said.

The lynx may cost about $5,000 each, but officials say their true value comes from the educational purposes they bring to Animal Gardens.

Thankfully, they are back in the hands of rightful owners.

Montana said Wiseman had worked at Animal Gardens for years. He lived on the property and was a caretaker for the animals.