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Update: Reports of Abuse and Deaths at Sham Sanctuary

Written by Jennifer O'Connor | May 20, 2014

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.

Tiger Cub Baby Kirshner (2) Tiger Cub Baby Kirshner (1)

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.

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  • Hannah says:

    I came around to PETA searching up for ‘Animal Protests’ (as I am looking forward to go to one very soon) And what I saw opened my eyes! I was disgusted! But you know what happens with organisations like this, there’s always hate. No matter what ever the hate says, it would never turn me off PETA’s work & I love PETA!! I love you Ingrid :)
    thank you PETA for telling me this horrid information I will be taking action and willing to do anything for animals! ANYTHING!

    These seem like mature words and you probably won’t believe this, but this is an 11 year old vegetarian (get my own products from my own farm) and I have devoted my life to animals. My inspiration is ingrid :)) PETA FOREVER

  • do we have any laws that stick to what they are suppose to do?Why woul you through them a fine instead of getting the animals to safty and shut the place down????? This is why everybody is going crazy with hate (because they can get away with it).Our lawmakers need to get more schooling or quit because they are a shame to our humanity

  • Leah De Silva says:

    I am sickened to the core of how humans have no regard for this planet and its beautiful inhabitants, we are a virus, we consume and destroy everything around us. We are the ones who should be culled, I am disgusted with this species and am ashamed, there is nothing humane about us! Thank you PETA for giving us hope!

  • jerri says:

    stop abusing these animals they dont derserve this and how would like to be put in cages and abused sickos . and these animals are born wild not for us to lock up and they were born to be free what happened to that ????????????

  • william newton says:

    Why can the powers that be , not close these places that have a history of animal neglect . Close them down and move the animals to a proper sanctuary .

  • victoria steele says:

    What kind of people stop to gawp at abused animals?

  • I have never liked this place please save the animals

  • Pat Verity says:

    Please stop abusing animals. They are Gods creatures just like you and me. That feel mental pain as well as physical. They deserve better!

  • I hate to read this and other stories like this where human beings have no respect and no regard for other living beings. Animals should not be “smacked around” to teach them who is boss, idiot people. Working with respect and patience is always the right way to go. Middle Eastern “zoos” if you can call them that, are horrible for the animals. They do the same thing to the animals – they want to teach them who is “boss”. The poor animals are in concrete enclosures with no enrichment, no affection or caring from these heartless greedy men. Please, we must change the way animals are treated in these horrendous holding facilities called “zoos”. If people can’t take care of the animals the way they are supposed to, then get rid of them and hire people who know what they are doing, or else close down the zoos. Animals do NOT belong in zoos anyway – they belong either in the wild or in sanctuaries where they can thrive.

  • Jo Anna A. says:

    Thank goodness for undercover investigations! Thank you to thevolunteers that did not look the other way and stepped up and disclosed such atrocities. I have never visited the sham sanctuary, but know several people who have visited and everyone I talked to said, there’something wrong with this Kirshner Foundation! They all said basically the same thing, that the animals are kept in small cages without adequate protection from the weather and they looked unhealthy. I hope they are shut down soon and that the owners are prosecuted! Thank you PETA!

  • Paula Korth says:

    The need is great and if we each, as individuals take just one little step, we can help so many animals that share this little rock we call Earth!!!!

  • Nan Newall says:

    It is deplorable how humans treat animals with such disdain and brutality. Protecting animals is not merely a noble end in itself, it is necessary for the promotion of human welfare; for, if we get desensitized to animal pain and suffering, it is very easy to take the next step and become desensitized to human pain and suffering as well.

    “Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life”. – Albert Schweitzer

  • Leonard & Martha Reiss says:

    Unfortunately, the Animal Kingdom, have to share the planet with us,so is our responsibility to promote and “fight” for the protection of the animal rights!

  • I just want to say how very upsetting it is to know there are still people out there that abuse helpless animals. And babies!! It’s deplorable! I am so thankful for animal welfare agencies like PETA that are always watching and always ready to take action to defend these animals. Thank you PETA!!

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