ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Three men were recently caught on tape breaking into a St. Augustine alligator farm where the director said several endangered species might have been seriously hurt.
Police hope the surveillance tape from the Alligator Farm Zoological Park helps them figure out who's responsible for Tuesday night's ruckus among the reptiles.
The video shows the men walking in and out of the Alligator Farm. Officials at the attraction said the trio threw things at the animals while inside vandalizing the property.
"This hurts. I mean, it's a real frustration for us to think that anybody would want to hurt our animals in the first place," said Alligator Farms Director John Brueggen.
He said the three men spent more than an hour vandalizing the farm by throwing water bottles at the alligators, pushing over displays and stealing food and beer from the snack shop.
The director said the men threw four large trashcan lids into the exhibits and that a fire extinguisher was sprayed at a gator and then thrown at another animal.
"Now, we're talking about animal abuse and harassing an endangered species, which are both fairly major crimes in our minds," Brueggen said.
He said in addition to the vandalism, the men stole a video monitor, camera and about $3,000 worth of equipment.
"Automatically, the hair kind of goes up on your neck. While, this is not where I live, you immediately feel somewhat violated," Brueggen said.
Some of the alligators and crocodiles affected by the vandals are endangered species. Brueggen said he is worried that if the animals swallowed something they could eventually die.
He said he wants the three men caught on tape breaking into the farm to be found and held accountable.
"It's entirely possible that with this one event that they would have killed three or four or a half dozen animals," Brueggen said.
Anyone who recognizes the men in the surveillance tape or has information that could help police solve this case is asked to call the St. Augustine Police Department at 904-825-1070.
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