Update: Reports of Abuse and Deaths at Sham Sanctuary
Update: Prompted by our complaint, the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation last month and cited the roadside zoo for failing to give veterinary care to several animals, including a lynx who was having difficulty moving and a tiger whose eye was swollen, red, and oozing; feeding animals moldy food; failing to provide two bears with water; and other serious issues.
Originally posted February 10, 2014:
Former volunteers at the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation in California have come forward to report appalling abuse and neglect and an alarming number of animal deaths at the sham sanctuary, which is operated by Roberta Kirshner.
Whistleblowers report a litany of serious abuses, including these:
- Kirshner failed or refused to call in a veterinarian for many ill and injured animals, who were left to suffer and die.
- A former volunteer reported that she personally witnessed Kirshner strike a bear—who was so young that she had not yet fully opened her eyes—with enough force to knock the cub backward. The witness stated that Kirshner struck the bear many times and even instructed the volunteer to do so in order to “teach” the cub.
- Another volunteer reported that Kirshner instructed her to “discipline” a clouded leopard by repeatedly hitting her under her chin with her fist—even after the animal’s nose started to bleed.
- A lion cub named Samson was reportedly taken out repeatedly for visitors to pick up and handle and was hit with a broom while he was suffering from broken bones.
PETA has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calling for thorough investigations.
What You Can Do
Any roadside zoo, dealer, or breeder can call itself a “sanctuary” to draw in financial support. Never be duped. Contact PETA before visiting or supporting one of these facilities to find out whether it’s a genuine sanctuary, or visit the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries to learn more.