When PETA Roared For Action, These Roadside Zoos Faced Federal Crackdowns

Published by .
4 min read

Seedy exhibitors should sleep with one eye open, because PETA is always keeping tabs on roadside zoos that subject animals to miserable exploitation. Laws meant to protect animals at roadside zoos are alarmingly inadequate—but as we have seen, many of these abysmal facilities can’t even meet the bottom-of-the-barrel minimum standards of care.

tiger lying in enclosure at a roadside zoo

We make sure that roadside zoos don’t get off scot-free by contacting authorities when we receive tips from concerned individuals or when we see red flags on social media.

Every time we alert officials to abuse and neglect at a roadside zoo, we get one step closer to shutting it down. We’ve exposed operations for denying animals adequate space and enrichment, for failing to provide animals with needed veterinary care, for confining animals to filthy enclosures, and for other apparent federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations—and over the past two years, we’ve seen a promising spike in citations and inspections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that stemmed from our own complaints.

PETA Has Stirred Trouble for These Roadside Zoos

Arbuckle Wilderness Park

Before PETA raised an alarm about a roadside dump in Davis, Oklahoma, called Arbuckle Wilderness Park, it had already been cited for condemning a lemur to solitary confinement, causing the highly social primate—who, in nature, would live in a group of up to 25 individuals—to pace from psychological distress. It was also cited for failing to provide animals with veterinary care and for apparently neglecting several animals who were underweight, including a severely thin llama who had died before a veterinarian arrived.

In December 2023, following a PETA complaint, USDA officials cited the crummy outfit when inspectors found exposed electric cords in a parrot enclosure, a platform in a tiger enclosure that had exposed sharp points, and emus and peacocks who didn’t have clean drinking water.

parrot enclosure with exposed electrical chords

Project Survival Cat Haven

A sham “conservation” organization in Dunlap, California, Project Survival Cat Haven puts big cats on display so that tourists can gawk at them. Following a tip from PETA, federal officials cited the facility over the unsafe transport of a 6-week-old cougar kitten—who, in nature, would have still been nursing and learning how to hunt. According to the inspection report, the kitten was sitting on the laps of staff and on the floor of a moving vehicle.

Three Monkeys Photo Emporium

A shoddy attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Three Monkeys Photo Emporium exploits intelligent, curious monkeys in photo ops—a much different picture from their natural habitats, where they would be swinging on branches and socializing with their friends and families.

A USDA inspection that stemmed from a PETA complaint revealed that staff had placed capuchins on customers’ shoulders for a photo shoot without ensuring direct control of the animals, risking injury to both them and customers. Officials also observed an otter pacing along an enclosure wall and tossing her head, likely due to mental anguish.

Utah Reindeer

Utah Reindeer is a sleazy operation that treats sensitive reindeer like holiday props, renting them out for events and photo ops during the Christmas season. After PETA alerted officials to the deaths of two reindeer, Jingle and Peppermint, who had been hit by cars after they escaped from a travel trailer during transport, the USDA slapped the business with an official warning.

TNT Exotics

The USDA cited TNT Exotics, a dismal roadside petting zoo in Shelbyville, Indiana, for multiple violations, including for housing a spider monkey alone—which can cause extreme stress to these highly social animals. Officials also saw enclosures that were caked with feces, live mice and flies in a sloth enclosure, and a turkey who had suffered feather loss after being .

Stay Far Away From Roadside Zoos and Other Cruel Tourist Traps

PETA’s message is clear: As long as animals suffer at roadside zoos, we’ll work relentlessly to shut these facilities down. You can urge roadside zoos to send these animals to reputable sanctuaries by taking action below:

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.