7 arrested: Cops fear naming adult in Wykoff zoo trespass
WYCKOFF — Citing threats made by animal lovers against the suspects, police are not releasing the name of the sole adult among seven suspect charged with trespassing and mistreating animals at a petting zoo this summer.
On Aug. 22, three officers responded to Abma's Farm where members of the family said they were hearing people in the petting zoo area, which is closed to the public overnight.
A Snapchat screenshot was then forwarded to members of the Abma family, which showed a young lady riding a mini donkey in the petting zoo, according to police. The incident left the animals "shaken and skittish," the family wrote at the time on their Instagram account.
On their Facebook page, the zoo said trespassers "opened gates and rode our miniature donkeys, who should not be supporting that much weight."
Police said three 17-year-old males and an 18-year-old from from Wyckoff, along with three 17-year-old females from Oradell were charged with trespassing, criminal mischief and overloading animals. Lt. Joseph Soto told New Jersey 101.5 that the overloading of animals is a type of animal cruelty offense.
The name of the 18-year-old was not released because of media attention received by the incident that led to threats, Soto said.
"Early on, one of the juveniles involved was identified as a result of social media postings outside of the control of law enforcement. This juvenile and her family have been subjected to harassing communications and other behaviors that caused concern for their safety," Soto told New Jersey 101.5 in an email. "Additionally, I have been made aware of online postings threatening harm to those responsible. Out of a genuine concern for the safety of those involved, and their families, we have decided to not release any names."
New Jersey Executive Order 69 issued by Gov. Christine Todd Whitman in 1997 requires the names of those arrested within 24 hours unless it "will jeopardize the safety of any person or jeopardize any investigation in progress or may be otherwise inappropriate to release."
Erin Vogt contributed to this report.