Why Are the Feds Licensing Animal Abusers?

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.

The PETA Foundation’s Captive Animal Law Enforcement (CALE) division is demanding answers about why chronic violators are being given the green light to continue their illegal and abusive activities.

Take the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo (aka the “Monroe Zoo”), for example. Despite the facility’s repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a new license to the zoo. We filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, noting that a facility is required to demonstrate compliance with the AWA in order to receive an exhibitor’s license.

The zoo operated without a license for four months—an AWA violation that should alone disqualify it from holding a license—and just two weeks after its new license was issued, a CALE staffer visited the facility and found an exposed electrical panel, a panting porcupine, capybaras held without water, and a snapping, live electrical wire in the enclosure with the warthogs—all violations of the AWA. She also saw a gibbon—a highly intelligent, social primate—confined alone to a barren enclosure, also in violation of the AWA.

Gibbon in Borneo Rainforest© iStock.com/Sander Meertins

Shortly after issuing the license, the USDA cited the Monroe Zoo for keeping the gibbon in isolation and for locking two other gibbons outside with no shelter from the cold pouring rain.

This is the same zoo from which PETA helped facilitate the release of a black bear who had suffered in a windowless enclosure for nearly four years until he was transferred to a Colorado sanctuary last year.

13-thin-looking black bear with poor molt

In other news:

  • CALE is asking the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to deny an application for a captive-bred wildlife permit to Jeff Taylor, owner of an outfit called The Wild Animal Experience and Park in Chittenango, New York. The permit would allow Taylor to buy and sell endangered species across state lines, purportedly for captive breeding. However, since 2012, Taylor has racked up numerous AWA violations, including keeping a 5-week-old tiger cub in his own kitchen, with no way to house the cub safely while he was gone. He was also cited for failing to provide animals with shade, failing to protect food from contamination, and letting feces accumulate in an enclosure housing zebras, which apparently was cleaned only once a month.
  • Wisconsin’s Circus World Museum ostensibly commemorates circus history, but it perpetuates circus cruelty by hosting the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus. (An elephant named Nina, whom the circus had exhibited at the museum, recently died after losing 500 pounds.) When we learned that the museum had launched a campaign called “Adopt a Wagon” to help fund its wagon-restoration program, CALE said sure but with one condition: The museum must end its partnership with Carson & Barnes.

CALE always has loads in the works. Keep checking back for more news.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind