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Detroit Zoo Provides Love and Care for Many of USGE’s Animal Victims

Written by PETA | February 17, 2010

Earlier this month, the Detroit Zoo—a progressive facility with a compassionate history—welcomed more than 1,100 of the nearly 27,000 animals who were seized from the hellish exotic-animal warehouse of U.S. Global Exotics (USGE) by Arlington, Texas, officials. But that wasn’t all the zoo did! Its staff came to the animals’ rescue within days of the seizure, flying from Detroit to Dallas and working around the clock at a temporary rescue facility. Several weeks later, many of the animals—including five wallabies, four sloths, three agoutis, two ring-tailed lemurs (who had spent years in a tiny cage at USGE), two coatimundis, and hundreds of reptiles, spiders, and amphibians—made the trip to Detroit, where they are under quarantine before being released into habitats that may not be their native homes, but are the next best thing.






The animals were seized on December 15 following PETA’s undercover investigation inside USGE, where tens of thousands of sick and injured animals were being denied food, water, and care. Since the raid—which was more than two months ago—USGE has not bought or sold a single animal, and just last month, a second judge ruling on an appeal affirmed that none of the animals would be returned to USGE. The decision ensures liberation from the clutches of the greedy pet trade for those who would’ve ended up on the shelves of pet shops like PetSmart and PETCO.

Until the profit-hungry PETCOs and PetSmarts of the world stop selling animals—all of whom come from cruel suppliers like USGE—the misery will continue. By shunning all pet stores that sell live animals and telling all your friends and family members to do the same, you can help prevent more abuse of those who have no voice of their own.

Written by Logan Scherer

Commenting is closed.
  • Nancy Penny says:

    As an ex-docent at the Detroit Zoo, and Homer, our sloth, being my most beloved animal, I would love to know what is being done with our collection of the 4 rescued sloths.

  • Lynda Squires says:

    What a great and wonderful achievement for the Detroit Zoo and all of those caring people who rescued these poor little gusy and tried to give them a home where they will be safe from the greedy mongers who run petco. It is a job well done. Time to shut petco down once and for all. Way to go guys and gals!!!!!!!

  • Diane says:

    Despite the feeling of Zoos imprisoning animals that should be left in thier natural habitat I agree. However I am a frequent visitor to the Detroit Zoo who in many instances have stepped up and rescued animals keeping them in or as possibly close to the natural habitats of these animals for instance the American Bald Eagle they have one that was hurt by vicious people who don’t give a damn he can no longer fly. He is there in a wonderful outdoor facitilty with of course shelter when needed sitting in a tree or on a nearby stump enjoying looking at us as we gaze at his beauty. I love the Detroit Zoo as far as zoos go there is not a containment in there that I would consider cruel. You should see the primates if your lucky because their habitate is so grandious sometimes they are to busy runningplaying and yelling at each other you may not get a glimps but can certainly hear them. I am proud of are Detroit Zoo for its rescue efforts.

  • Marnie says:

    This is how every zoo normally should react Just help where help is needed I hope the other zoos follow this example… Thank you so much PETA for your good work !!!

  • Saucy says:

    Definitely a step up from USGE. Here’s to hoping you have a happy life with lots of playtime and burrowing or whatever it is that sloths do best.

  • Callie says:

    Yay! I’m proud to be from Detroit! Our zoo was one of the first to willingly retire our elephants!

  • Brien Comerford says:

    This verifies that SOME zoos are actually humane havens and sanctuaries for animals in need.

  • Maude Duncan says:

    Huh a zoo well I guess it’s better than what they had. Our zoo has a lone elephant imprisoned there. We are trying to get her to a sanctuary. They can’t afford to plow the snow off the roads but now they intend to sink millions into the zoo no one goes to except elementary school kids on field trips. Teaching children that animals must be in cages is just so wrong.

  • Kelley says:

    Sloths are cute. We visited a rain forest preserve in Costa Rica where many sloths live in the wild. It is a shame to remove them fromt heir natural habitats for selfish epople to keep in cages.

  • Alexis says:

    Proud to be from MI after reading things like this.

  • Andre Inglis says:

    That sloth is so cute! Though I don’t like zoos I’m happy these animals are at the zoo instead of at USGE in a tiny cage. Sometims we have to weigh the options.

  • Dave says:

    Despite their professed concern for animals zoos remain more “collections” of interesting “items” than actual havens or simulated habitats. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity bored cramped lonely and far from their natural homes. Says Virginia McKenna star of the classic movie Born Free and now an active campaigner in behalf of captive animals “It is the sadness of zoos which haunts me. The purposeless existence of the animals. For the four hours we spend in a zoo the animals spend four years or fourteen perhaps even longer if not in the same zoo then in others day and night summer and winter. . . . This is not conservation and surely it is not education. No it is ‘entertainment.’ Not comedy however but tragedy.” Zoos range in size and quality from cageless parks to small roadside menageries with concrete slabs and iron bars. The larger the zoo and the greater the number and variety of the animals it contains the more it costs to provide quality care for the animals. Although more than 112 million people visit zoos in the United States and Canada every year most zoos operate at a loss and must find ways to cut costs which sometimes means selling animals or add gimmicks that will attract visitors. Zoo officials often consider profits ahead of the animals’ well being. A former director of the Atlanta Zoo once remarked that he was “too far removed from the animals they’re the last thing I worry about with all the other problems.” Animals suffer from more than neglect in some zoos. When Dunda an African elephant was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Wild Animal Park she was chained pulled to the ground and beaten with ax handles for two days. One witness described the blows as “home run swings.” Such abuse may be the norm. “You have to motivate them” says San Francisco zookeeper Paul Hunter of elephants “and the way you do that is by beating the hell out of them.” Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species but they frequently fall short on both counts. Most zoo enclosures are quite small and labels provide little more information than the species’ name diet and natural range. The animals’ normal behavior is seldom discussed much less observed because their natural needs are seldom met. Birds’ wings may be clipped so they cannot fly aquatic animals often have little water and the many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or at most in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. The animals are closely confined lack privacy and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise resulting in abnormal and selfdestructive behavior called zoochosis. A worldwide study of zoos conducted by the Born Free Foundation revealed that zoochosis is rampant in confined animals around the globe. Another study found that elephants spend 22 percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors such as repeated head bobbing or biting cage bars and bears spend about 30 percent of their time pacing a sign of distress. One sanctuary that is home to rescued zoo animals reports seeing frequent signs of zoochosis in animals brought to the sanctuary from zoos. Of chimpanzees who bite their own limbs from captivityinduced stress the manager says “Their hands were unrecognizable from all the scar tissue.” More than half the world’s zoos “are still in bad conditions” and treating chimpanzees poorly according to renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall. As for education zoo visitors usually spend only a few minutes at each display seeking entertainment rather than enlightenment. A study of the zoo in Buffalo N.Y. found that most people passed cages quickly and described animals in such terms as “funnylooking” “dirty” or “lazy.” The purpose of most zoos’ research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist so would the need for most of their research. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a noble goal but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals who draw crowds and publicity and neglect less popular species. Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. It is nearly impossible to release captivebred animals into the wild. A 1994 report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals showed that only 1200 zoos out of 10000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. Only two percent of the world’s threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. Those that are endangered may have their plight made worse by zoos’ focus on crowd appeal. In his book The Last Panda George Schaller the scientific director of the Bronx Zoo says zoos are actually contributing to the nearextinction of giant pandas by constantly shuttling the animals from one zoo to another for display. Inbreeding is also a problem among captive populations. Zoo babies are great crowdpleasers but what happens when babies grow up? Zoos often sell or kill animals who no longer attract visitors. Deer tigers lions and other animals who breed often are sometimes sold to “game” farms where hunters pay for the “privilege” of killing them some are killed for their meat andor hides. Other “surplus” animals may be sold to smaller more poorly run zoos or to laboratories for experiments.

  • NT says:

    WOW! A zoo that really cares about the animals. Go figure!!

  • Aneliese says:

    Well done Detroit Zoo! If only all zoos could be like this one.

  • jade says:

    I compliment this zoo and any other zoo that helps out these animals. I wish more groups would show this compassion and walk the walk as well as talk the talk.