By Craig Day, The News On 6
WAGONER COUNTY -- Thieves broke into Safari's Interactive Animal Sanctuary in Broken Arrow overnight Tuesday and took snakes and money, according to the Wagoner County Sheriff's Office.
Safari's is a non-profit wildlife refuge that takes in and gives permanent refuge to exotic wildlife. It currently houses about 250 animals.
"I don't know what kind of person would want to sneak into a place that has wild tigers as watch dogs, but somebody did," said Frank Gaddy, of Safari's Sanctuary.
The sheriff's office reports thieves took a safe with weekend proceeds and six of the park's snakes. It happened sometime between 9 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday at the park, located at 26881 East 58th Street in Broken Arrow.
"It takes a coward to sneak in, in the middle of the night," said Gaddy.
The thieves also took change from the donation bucket, according to the sheriff's office. They took $1,500 total, or half of what it takes to feed the big cats for a month. That's a lot for a nonprofit group.
"The money can be replaced, it will hurt for a while though," said Gaddy.
What hurts even more, is that the thieves didn't stop there. They also took six snakes, including an eight to 10-foot Albino Burmese Python, a four-foot Brazilian Rainbow Boa and two ball pythons.
"They were our babies. It's just like somebody coming and stealing your dog, you just can't believe people would go to that much trouble," said Lori Ensign, of Safari's Sanctuary.
So why would someone go to the trouble of stealing snakes?
"Some of the snakes can go up to $1,000 or more," said Gaddy.
"There are a lot of snake people out there, you either love them or you hate them and there are a ton of people who are really into snakes, and they did take the expensive ones," said Ensign.
Safari's Sanctuary is now spreading the word among those snake people to watch for anyone selling those kinds of snakes, especially sellers who may have a few bite marks.
"One of the snakes was mean and bit, so I hope they got bit," Ensign said.
None of the stolen snakes are venomous.
Anyone with information that could help in the case is urged to call the Wagoner County Sheriff's Office at (918) 485-3124.