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Gem Club wants collection returned from closed Las Vegas Zoo

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Gem Club wants collection returned from closed Las Vegas Zoo

By Kean Bauman. CREATED Oct 17, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The last of the live animals are gone from the shuttered Las Vegas Zoo. But there's still some precious cargo there; prehistoric animals that one group said have not been returned to them.

And these are all invertebrates, specimens from the mountains along Las Vegas from prehistoric times.

Doris Currington has been helping make Las Vegas a better place to live for decades. Working to preserve our natural history and educate everyone about it.

She started at age 7 and at 86, she's still going strong, "And I know quite a bit about archaeology. And of course rocks. That's my middle name nearly."

Doris invited Action News to her home for a tour. Every nook and cranny is filled with fossils, rocks and geodes.

But Doris doesn't keep things to herself. She has donated many of her finds to the Southern Nevada Gem and Mineral Society which for decades has set up displays in local banks and libraries.

Part of their collection was on display at the Las Vegas Zoo, a natural choice for the public to learn about natural history. But Doris said it needed a new home when Zoo Director Pat Dingle locked the place up for good.

"He notified us that he would have everything in a store room," said Doris. She tells us a long flatbed trailer, three pickups and two cars were needed to accommodate the collection.

But according to Doris many of the items were missing when they showed up. The gem club got some of their plant fossils and other items, but Doris' big horn sheep rack was nowhere to be found and the items from a large display case were also missing.

"There are a number of geodes there and minerals up above," Doris points out in a photograph of the case. "And these are all fossils on this side. There's a complete display of the fossils that are found in Clark County."

Most importantly for Doris is her missing original research, "This is some of my life's work. Now I can show you, you see more books, I have a lot of life's work."

Her binders contain notes, drawings, photos and logs from archaeology sites and other projects.

"There's mammoths, deer, sloth. I have all these tracks. Mama sloths." Doris says Pat Dingle has one of those notebooks which is supposed to go to UNLV.

"I've written him and written him. I've just sent him off a letter a week ago." All she wants from him is to return the remaining items.

"If he would be willing to be a gentleman, a good businessman, and give me my property."

With no response from Pat Dingle and no answers as to where her stuff was, Doris contacted Action News for help.

The zoo was in Councilman Ricky Barlow's ward.

"I'm hoping to have a conversation where we will be able to retrieve those items on her behalf, prior to Ms. Currington having to go take additional measures in getting law enforcement involved and possibly attorneys, which is not going to be good for either side," said Barlow.

Like Doris, Councilman Barlow just wants Pat Dingle to do the right thing.

"I would say this is a plea to Pat Dingle. Please fork over the artifacts so we can get those artifacts he has back out into the community."

Pat Dingle wouldn't talk to us when the zoo closed, and he won't talk to us about this either. He hung up the phone when we called and didn't return a subsequent message.

We will be following up with the city to see if they have any luck helping Doris and the Gem Club get back their pieces of Nevada history.

For more information about the Southern Nevada Gem and Mineral Society, click here.