Feds Crack Down on Sleazy Zoos

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.

The PETA Foundation’s Captive Animal Law Enforcement (CALE) Division gets results. Here are just a few of its recent cases:

  • CALE asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the Sunrise Side Nature Trail and Exotic Park after a lion bit off part of a visitor’s right middle finger when, according to the USDA inspection report, a 15-year-old employee allowed the visitor inside an unlocked gate, where she was able to reach into the big cat’s cage. The USDA did investigate the roadside zoo, and it cited the facility for allowing patrons to get too close to dangerous animals without adequate barriers, having improperly trained employees (there’s no record indicating that the 15-year-old had been properly trained), and failing to lock a gate in the fenced area that’s supposed to act as a public barrier.
  • Cheyenne—a wolf-dog hybrid who escaped from a roadside zoo in Nicholasville, Kentucky, called Wolf Run Wildlife Refuge—was shot with tranquilizer darts at least 14 times and was found dead a month after she went missing. It’s suspected that Cheyenne may have been hit and killed by a car. CALE asked the USDA to take action, and the agency strongly rebuked the facility for its botched handling of Cheyenne’s escape.
  • After CALE provided video footage of animals in distress at the Hollywild Animal Park in South Carolina, the USDA cited the roadside zoo for forcing a capuchin monkey to wear a long chain that’s been attached to her waist for “most of her life.” The inspector told the zoo that the chain causes the primate “unnecessary discomfort” and noted that it put her at risk of becoming entangled. The facility was also cited for keeping animals in dangerous enclosures that contained loose boards, broken wires, and gaping holes in the fencing as well as for failing to remove piles of rotted food and animal waste from the filthy enclosures. The USDA has also just announced that it’s formally investigating Hollywild for its violations—which could lead to fines and the suspension or revocation of the facility’s license. Chained Capuchin at Hollywild Animal Park

As long as animals are in trouble, CALE will keep pushing to help them. You can, too, by staying away from zoos and spreading the word to others.

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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