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Bear Dead After Inadequate Vet Care

Written by Alisa Mullins | May 22, 2014

Update: The hellish saga continues at Oklahoma’s Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park (G.W. Zoo)—a bear died in this latest incident. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) records that just became publicly available, the zoo failed to supply adequate veterinary care to the bear, who was apparently left to languish and bleed on a dirt floor in a cage for two weeks after allegedly being mauled by another bear.

We learned about the bear’s plight after a visitor to the facility told us that the animal was extremely lethargic and appeared unable to stand. We got the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to go out the next morning, and this was followed by a visit from the USDA. The USDA inspector noted that a zoo staffer, not a veterinarian, had attempted to stitch up the bear’s 4- to 8-inch wound. The animal was eventually euthanized.

Updated April 15, 2014:

Update: PETA received a worried call from a witness who said that she had spotted an unresponsive bear lying in a cage at the G.W. Zoo, along with what appeared to be fresh blood. PETA alerted the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A game warden raced to the G.W. Zoo the same day, the USDA got there the next day, and the bear was apparently peacefully euthanized. Strangely, the facility’s owner, Joe Schreibvogel, posted a message on his Facebook page stating that the bear had been mauled by another bear a full two weeksearlier. The evidence suggests that Schreibvogel had deprived the bear of needed veterinary care after the attack and thus made him suffer further, an apparent violation of Oklahoma law. PETA is now asking the district attorney to pursue cruelty-to-animals charges against Schreibvogel. If convicted of this felony cruelty offense, he’ll face one to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000. And Schreibvogel is currently the subject of at least four other USDA investigations.

Updated October 8, 2013:

Update: A G.W. zoo worker was reportedly attacked by a tiger on Saturday after putting her arm inside the tiger’s cage. She was injured so severely that she nearly lost the arm. The zoo’s operator, Joe Schreibvogel, blamed the worker, saying that it was “her fault” and that there was “no other way of avoiding this other than handcuffing my employees’ hands behind their backs.” This is not the first time that one of the frustrated big cats at G.W. zoo has lashed out: Numerous visitors have been injured, and Schreibvogel himself was bitten on the hand by a cougar in 2002, nearly severing his thumb and a finger. PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging it to investigate the latest attack.

Originally posted September 27, 2013:

The name may have changed, but The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, formerly known as G.W. Exotic Animal Park, is still up to the same old tricks—abusing animals. And PETA is still fighting to shut this hellhole down.

We’ve called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to refuse to renew the Oklahoma menagerie’s Animal Welfare Act license, citing the facility’s long history of animal-care violations, including the recent deaths of two tiger cubs born at the facility as well as the deaths of nearly two dozen other tiger cubs in a seven-month period. Joe Schreibvogel, who holds the license authorizing G.W. to exhibit animals, has also incurred enormous debts, totaling between $1 million and $10 million, which inhibit his ability to care properly for the more than 100 big cats and other animals at the facility.

PETA conducted an undercover investigation at the roadside zoo back in 2006 and documented horrific neglect and abuse, including dead, dying, and injured animals; extremely crowded conditions; a serious lack of basic necessities, such as food, water, and veterinary care; inadequate cages; and untrained and insufficient staff, who were intentionally cruel to numerous animals. We documented the following abuses, among others:

  • Animals were routinely hit, kicked, sprayed with cold water, struck with rakes and shovels, and blasted with fire extinguishers to break up frequent fights.
  • Incompatible animals were not separated, and many were seriously injured from fighting with one another.
  • In one gruesome attack, a lion named Julie’s front leg was torn off and eaten by two tigers. She ripped out the stitches in her stump and was given nothing for the pain.
  • Two healthy adult tigers were killed, and their teeth were reportedly cut out to be given away as gifts.
  • Animals frequently escaped because of inadequate cages and careless personnel.
  • Two badly injured horses in excruciating pain, including one formerly used for racing who had a broken leg, were dumped at the zoo, and staff let them suffer for days before they were butchered.
  • Lit cigarettes and cigars were given to primates.
  • Lion and tiger cubs born at the facility were typically removed from their mothers immediately after birth and then were often declawed—a practice that the USDA has now banned—and taken on the road.
  • Employees were instructed to falsify paperwork required by the USDA regarding animal feeding schedules as well as environmental enrichment for primates.
  • The “contingency plan” for escaped animals during storms was to shoot to kill.

PETA’s investigator witnessed this litany of horrors just one month after Schreibvogel’s license was suspended for 18 months and he was fined $25,000 as a result of more than 197 Animal Welfare Act violations.

What You Can Do

Please join PETA in contacting the USDA, and ask that the agency not renew G.W.’s federal license.

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  • Haley G says:

    I have never been more upset and disgusted. I am so disappointed. This facility needs shut down!

  • I Russell says:

    Oh my goodness! Why is this place still open? Just close it and never allow the owners the means of establishing another torture land! This is just not right!

  • Why dont yu shut that despicable zoo down! That is horrendous wot they are doing too the animals arnt they suffering enuf! !!

  • carol frayne says:

    Why isn’t this stopped at state level? What is anyone doing about these terrible places and the terrible people who run them? I remember the story of Noah and his ark and honestly I can understand why animals were the only survivors after the flood!
    These animals deserve more than these people give them, much more. They need to be free and not brutalized by human beings.

  • I actually cringed just reading this. That hellhole DOES need to be shut down. It is tragic that sadistic operations like that are able to keep their doors open for a moment longer with this knowledge out there. It sounds like a concentration camp.

  • EMMA-MARIANA says:

    OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Katrina Fahrion says:

    Get this place shut down before any other animals die! What’s going on there is disgusting!

  • Please stop the suffering of these animals, they need to be free in a beautiful sanctuary somewhere. They are not here for our entertainment. They are like us, wanting to live freely and be happy.

  • Katrina says:

    With so much evidence why can you not do something about this? Clearly there are laws in place to protect animals and provide them with an expected level of care, safe environment? Are you telling me that the authorities would turn a blind eye to this and the only to do something about it is through public money and petitions?

  • chinda Korm says:

    So sad heartbreaking..why is human are so cold and cruel..please help all this poor animals on earth and please protect them fast and thanks you so much..

  • amauri moraes says:

    isso tem que acabar ja

  • Margaret klima says:

    Disgusting! How can authorities let this go on??? These people NEED TO BE IN PRISON!!!

  • joyce says:

    all zoos and circues should be banned,to hurt any animals in any way is disgracefull ..

  • Kim Goodfellow says:

    who to contact in the USDA??? I’ll send an email, text, or letter! This so-called zoo, must be shut down immediately and the animals sent to beautiful, well-kept zoo’s w/ awesome enclosures ! They DO exist! These animals deserve a better life! kim

  • Samantha says:

    I find this very difficult to digest. I think that it’s incredible what PETA achieve through these investigations, however I think a $25,000 fine is not sufficient for the crimes committed. I find it hard to believe how those workers could go to work every day, and be perfectly unaffected by the pain and suffering of the animals surrounding them. They all seem to know exactly the vile treatment of the animals, which to me deems them ALL unfit and uneducated when it comes to both handling and simply treating animals humanely. It baffles me that these places are even able to open for ‘business’, and that it is only when PETA becomes involved that people open their eyes and educate themselves on the cruelty that these animals endure. I am proud to follow PETA, and honestly don’t know what we, d do without them. Congratulations to the investigators! It’s a step into the right direction, and hopefully in the future we will see places like this closed for ‘business’ permanently!

  • Carolyn cowgill says:

    Katy please have a heart and stop supporting animal abuse. Thank you.

  • Laurie says:

    OMG! What the hell?! Why is this allowed to happen and why haven’t the people been arrested and facility closed? This is absurd!!! Anyone participating in these heinous acts or are aware but do nothing should have the same pain afflicted on each and every single one of them! I could participate and/or just watch and not even blink!

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