Alligators that once belonged to the late Michael Jackson were among the eight animals to perish in a fire that struck Oklahoma's Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park last week (March 26).

According to the Oklahoman, the animals were "boiled to death" in the fire, which destroyed their enclosures. The zoo first acquired the reptiles after Jackson died. The park's founder, Joe Schreibvogel, said, "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." The zoo also helped find homes for giraffes that lived on Jackson's ranch.

Schreibvogel believes a group of animal rights activists, who have been at odds with him in the past, are behind the fire — which would be counterintuitive to fighting for animal rights. Schreibvogel said, "This was personal. They targeted the studio to shut me up. They wanted to get me off the air...or else they would’ve targeted something else (in the zoo)."

Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes believes the fire may have been a coverup to distract from a burglary. He said (quote via KJRH), "Many times an arson fire may be used to cover a burglary or a theft to destroy evidence. And that is a very strong possibility in this case."

Schreibvogel went on to note, "The building can be replaced, the equipment can be replaced, but Michael Jackson's alligators cannot be replaced. 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."

The park will stay open while investigators work to find the people who started the fire.

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