HAMPSHIRE TOWNSHIP – More than 100 volunteers converged on a farm in rural Hampshire Township Tuesday morning to move nearly 100 animals from an impounded petting zoo to an undisclosed location near Maple Park.
The volunteers responded after a call went out from Kane County Animal Control seeking help in transporting the animals – everything from goats, ducks and rabbits to horses, llamas and alpacas. The animals' owner was arrested last week, and the property owner where she was a tenant wanted the animals moved, officials said.
The first to be loaded for the move were small Nubian goats, bleating softly as each volunteer carried one up to a trailer tagged with the name Dave Rowley Paint and Quarter Horses, Evansville, Wis.
Campton Hills resident Bob Klock, a volunteer, said his wife encouraged him to participate.
"I took a day off of work to come out here with a trailer and help," Klock said.
After the goats were loaded, it was the llamas and alpacas' turn to step into another hauler tagged with the name Lenkaitis Holsteins, owned by Al Lenkaitis, a Campton Hills trustee and local dairy farmer.
"I'm here to help move some animals," Lenkaitis said. "We should be able to get everything moved out to a better place."
Volunteers and those with the ability to haul large animals were asked to start at the animal control headquarters in Geneva and drive out to the Hampshire Township location.
Kane County Sheriff's Lt. Pat Gengler said seven to 10 trucks and haulers already were onsite when the caravan from animal control headquarters in Geneva arrived.
"I think we got more volunteers and more people that have showed up than we ever could have imagined," Gengler said. "The caravan [from Geneva] was huge. ... It's cool to see that many people willing to give up their own time to help."
Kaleen Barbera, from Field of Dreams Horse Rescue in Batavia, was among the volunteers helping to move the animals. She said their horse rescue might receive some of the animals.
"We'll see what they end up needing help with," Barbera said. "We have a lot of resources we are putting together, and we assume we are going to be one of those ultimate homes."
The action of moving the animals follows the March 5 arrest of the petting zoo's owner, Stacy Fiebelkorn of Elgin, on one count of a violation of an owner's duty to provide adequate food, shelter and water and vet care to prevent suffering, and one count of cruelty to animals, both misdemeanors.
In total, 11 animals and a horse fetus were found dead, and 94 were in need of food and water. The horse and fetus were found on a farm near Maple Park, and the rest were found at the Hampshire Township location, officials said. A plea-setting for Fiebelkorn is scheduled for March 18, according to circuit court records.
Sauceda said the county also filed court papers to take the animals from Fiebelkorn. A hearing on the animals' forfeiture is set for Thursday, so that the animals become the county's property, he said.
"At that point, I can start adopting and sending them to rescues to be loved," Sauceda said. "That's the goal."