March 14, 2013 — -- What am I bid for a used penguin? A distressed two-fingered sloth? How about 150 lovebirds having second thoughts?
In Nevada this week, a bankruptcy court judge approved the sale of 280 exotic animals -- part of a collection originally assembled by entertainment legend Wayne Newton -- to an Oregon wildlife center for $27,300, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The price -- less than $100 per critter -- represents a decline in the value of exotic animals, generally, say experts.
The seller, CSD LLC, owns Newton's Casa de Shenandoah estate outside Las Vegas.
Jasmine Bigbee, manager of the estate's wildlife center, said in bankruptcy court papers that the current market for exotic animals is "saturated." There's an oversupply, she said, in relation to the number of facilities licensed to care for them.
According to the Review-Journal, CSD's checkbook ledger showed that the estate paid $10,500 in 2010 for a single penguin. Today, according to the Oregon wildlife center, you can get yourself a perfectly nice penguin for as little as $1,000 while an exceptional specimine might fetch up to $9,000. A staffer there attributed the decline in exotic animal prices not just to a surfeit of supply, but to a lagging U.S. economy.
"The rate of new, qualified facilities has not kept up with the propagation activities of the captively held species," she wrote in an email to ABC News. Further, the decline in the U.S. economy "has made funds tight for new facilities."
The Oregon buyer -- the Zoological Wildlife Conservation Center and Sloth Captive Husbandry Research Center of Rainier -- said none of the 280 animals had yet arrived from Las Vegas. But staff excitement already was running high.
"Our specialty," said a staffer, "is our vast collection of the ultra-delicate, two-fingered sloth."
The Oregon facility's collection of such sloths is the largest in captivity.
Two of the sloths arriving from Las Vegas belonged originally to the Oregon facility's collection.
"We are absolutely ecstatic to be getting them back," said the staffer.
Come June, once the transfer is complete, she predicted sloth fanciers will have a treat coming.
The same may not be true for fanciers of Wayne Newton -- at least, not if audience reactions to the 70-year old performer's most recent appearances can be believed.
Mr. Las Vegas last performed in February at Arizona's Chandler Center for the Arts. Afterwards, 14 patrons posted curt reviews on Ticketmaster's website.
"This man who has been around the world many times lost his voice somewhere, and it is nowhere to be found," wrote one. "There was no encore, as the crowd couldn't wait to leave."
Carped another: "Not only did he not have a singing voice, he was having a difficult time talking."
Newton's jokes, complained a third, "were terrible also."
The Brutus of the group plunged his dagger deep: "Someone needs to tell him, 'It's over, Man!'"