PETA has sent a complaint requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigate Maple Lane Wildlife Farm in Topeka, Indiana, for multiple animal-welfare concerns, including those regarding a juvenile capuchin monkey who was used as a photo prop—and who was filmed biting and hitting himself in apparent psychological distress. His anguish can be seen in upsetting video footage taken at the facility:
According to our wildlife veterinarians, this abnormal behavior is likely the result of being prematurely separated from his mother, confined to a tiny cage, and denied the companionship of other capuchins, who live in groups of 10 to 35 individuals in nature. PETA also notes that an eyewitness documented that a tiger at the roadside zoo paced on the concrete floor of a cramped cage, which can lead to osteoarthritis and foot injuries such as blisters and ulcers. A bear also repetitively swayed his or her head—another sign of suffering and stress.
At Maple Lane Wildlife Farm, animals are confined to barren cages with nothing to do but wait for visitors to toss food to them. Authorities must inspect this roadside zoo and ensure that these animals receive the care that they need and are entitled to by law.
PETA also alerted the USDA to animals at Maple Lane who were in apparent need of veterinary care, including a wolf with flystrike—a painful injury to the ears caused by fly infestations—and possible sunburn on the ears. Many animals were denied adequate shelter from the rain and sun.
Maple Lane has a history of failing to care properly for animals. In 2011, the USDA issued two official warnings to the roadside zoo for numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Violations since then have included failure to provide animals with adequate veterinary care, to clean enclosures properly, to maintain safe shelters for the animals, and more.
What You Can Do
If you’re planning a road trip, you can avoid bringing home awful memories by not stopping at decrepit roadside zoos and other cruel tourist traps that exploit animals. Vacationers with money to spend keep these archaic exhibits in business, and animals will continue to suffer as long as people heed the call of highway billboards and pull over.
Don’t spend any of your vacation time at Maple Lane or any of these other places where animals will still languish in misery long after you’re back home.