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Victory: Zoo Nebraska’s License Revoked

Written by PETA | February 20, 2009

Back in September 2005, four chimpanzees made a break for freedom from a depressing roadside zoo called Zoo Nebraska after workers at the zoo failed to lock the animals’ cage properly. Ultimately, three of the chimpanzees—Reuben, Jimmy Joe, and Tyler (who had been discarded by the entertainment industry once he got too big and strong to reliably perform in TV and movies)—were shot and killed by police. You can view a police video of the escape here.

USDA reports obtained by PETA reveal that in the six and a half years leading up to this incident, the zoo had been cited repeatedly for improper care of exotic animals. Citations included failure to maintain enclosures in order to prevent escape of animals, failure to have a disaster program with means to restrain or capture animals in the event of an emergency, failure to train employees in how to operate a tranquilizer gun, failure to provide shelter, failure to provide primates with environmental enhancement to promote psychological well-being, failure to provide veterinary care to tigers and primates, insufficient access to drinking water, and sanitation violations. The long list of repeated violations and the fatal escape attempt spurred the USDA to file charges against Zoo Nebraska in 2007; last month, the USDA finally revoked the zoo’s license.

Most zoos, circuses, and animal trainers that handle great apes have a long list of similar violations, but, all too often, no action is taken until after tragedy strikes. Just this past week in Connecticut, a captive chimpanzee named Travis, who had appeared in advertisements for Coca-Cola and Old Navy, attacked his owner, her friend, and two police officers before he was shot to death. Some people may think that seeing chimpanzees dress up in costumes and mug for TV cameras is “cute,” but these heartbreaking events speak loud and clear: Great apes are wild animals who belong in their natural habitat. You can read the letter that we sent to the governor of Connecticut calling for a ban on keeping primates as “pets” here and you can take action yourself here.

Written by Liz Graffeo

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  • michaelhenry says:

    boycott nebraska boycott gamma goat! THEY ABUSE ANIMALS FOR SOUND. IT IS NOT MUSIC IT IS TORTURE

  • BIG LOVE says:

    dear comrades unfortunately there is more trouble in old nebraska…surely by now all have heard of the nebraska band “Gamma Goat”. it is true these guys have always been sick but they have really taken it to a new level with their latest release “beard of sound beard of sand”. one listen to tracks like “killing ducks with nunchucks” made me ill. i immediately took this album from my son and destroyed it i hope you would do the same if you have kids listening to this garbage. BOYCOTT GAMMA GOAT!! Big Love!

  • TexasGoat says:

    With board member “hayseed” names like Lucille Earleen Junior Kip and “JR” I doubt you were dealing with people who possessed much empathy if even brain stems. Congrats on getting their license revoked!

  • wendi says:

    I’ll admit I have mixed emotions about zoos. Some zoos are wonderful and have spent millions on habitats and vet care is top notch and then you have lower level zoos with animals that are depressed and hostile living in small cement cages. Not sure which this was but if you want to profit off the animals stuck there you shouldn’t be cited multiple times and they should be treated and cared for properly. I hope the remaining animals can find suitable housing now. Too bad the tranqs didn’t work. Shame they had to be shot and killed. Wonder why they didn’t work?

  • roxanne says:

    yes I agree with Brien i prefer sanctuaries that have endangered species and rescued animals. I really don’t care of zoo it teaches children about imprisonment and cruelty.

  • jbdean says:

    This is a victory for PETA because the license was revoked now … not later when some law is put into play. It’s wonderful that Sen Dodd is doing but please don’t make what PETA has done here invalid. And I echo Liz Graffeo’s point on why things don’t change until there is violence to humans or the threat of it! Why can’t people just see the threat to the animal first? Empathy. Too many humans lack it for other humans it makes sense they’d lack it for animals. Sad but true.

  • Tricia says:

    Brien no animal should be imprisoned in a zoo. Endangered species would be much better served through habitat protection than being incarcerated in zoos. Zoos serve only humans not animals.

  • Michael Essi says:

    I am outraged that it takes horrific incidences such as the most recent one in Connecticut for people to do the right thing. I would really like to see leadership that is proactive regarding prevention instead of doing things after the fact. Can you imagine how much pain and suffering could have been avoided by all involved had a ban on exotic animals been in place. Why should CT be the only state to begin moving this type of law forward? Doesn’t it make sense to implement a ban in all 50 states? When will people learn? The laziest and most ignorant of all species is the human species.

  • Brad says:

    Pepsi the law in Connecticut isn’t the victory the blog was talking about. And Senator Dodd cannot move a bill through the Connecticut State Senate because he does not serve in that body…

  • Pepsi One is Fun says:

    Yeah I wouldn’t say this would be a PETA victory as Senator Chris Dodd is already moving a law through the conneticut senate that is going to put such a ban into effect.

  • Brien Comerford says:

    I only support zoos that house imperiled and endangered species. It was grievous to read about the fatal fate of these priceless and precious chimps. They died due to profound human error.

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