Eight reptiles died during a fire that destroyed two animal enclosure at a Oklahoma zoo

By Kelli Bender
Updated April 02, 2015 04:15 PM

Eight animals are dead after a fire on March 26 destroyed two enclosures housing numerous alligators and crocodiles at the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Oklahoma.

According to The Oklahoman, alligators that once belonged to Michael Jackson were among the innocent reptiles “boiled to death” during the blaze.

“When they closed down Neverland Ranch and auctioned off his property, they asked us to come get all the reptiles and alligators and other stuff,” said Joe Schreibvogel, the park’s founder and spokesman.

Authorities investigating the incident think an arsonist is to blame for the devastating fire.

“Many times an arson fire may be used to cover a burglary or a theft to destroy evidence,” Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes told KXII. “And that is a very strong possibility in this case.”

Schreibvogel suspects that a group of animal activists who have spoken out against his park set the blaze, but so far no arrests have been made. Anyone connected to the fire could be charged with a federal crime, due to 2006’s Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which made damaging and interfering with roadside zoos a federal offense.

Along with the two animal enclosures, the zoo’s studio was destroyed, resulting in $250,000 in damages.

“The building can be replaced, the equipment can be replaced, but Michael Jackson’s alligators cannot be replaced,” Schreibvogel said.

“If somebody has an issue with the zoo or an issue with me personally, then take it up with me. These animals didn’t deserve to be burned to death,” he continued.

The zoo will remain open while the investigation continues, using armed guards to patrol the park around the clock.