Highway 77 Zoo Financially Strapped

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The owner of the Highway 77 Zoological and Exotic Wildlife Refuge needs help.

The zoo has been financially strapped for more than a year now, but all the owner has received so far is complaints.

For the past 12 years, the 77 Zoological and Exotic Wildlife Refuge has served as a learning place for the Sand Hills community. But since the zoo’s owner, Georg Koll, narrowly escaped a lion attack more than a year ago, health and financial difficulties have kept Koll from properly running the facility. Now, there’s a for sale sign outside.

"I put a lot of money, a lot of work, and a lot of excitement into this zoo. I did it for the community and kids, and it didn't work out," Georg Koll says. Koll says if he doesn't get an offer for the zoo and he doesn't receive any community support, he will have to close down the zoo by next fall.

Along with his financial problems, Koll has also endured some complaints about how the zoo is being kept. At least one patron says the zoo's panther looks malnourished and the alligator's cage is too small.

Fish and Wildlife Officials actually completed an inspection inside the zoo today, and found no violations. Koll says the complaint is ridiculous.

“Don't complain. Do something for the animals. Complaining doesn't help. Get active. Show us how to do it right," Koll says.

Koll says it will be up to the community to decide in the end if they want a zoo or not.

Fish and Wildlife inspectors say the zoo had only minor infractions since its inception, and overall, it’s kept up to regulatory standards.