What Do Roadside Zoos, SeaWorld, and Ringling Have in Common?

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.

PETA Foundation’s Captive Animal Law Enforcement division (CALE) knows exactly what legal protections captive animals are afforded and demands that enforcement agencies take action when zoos or circuses flout the law. The following are some recent examples:

  • The notorious Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia has repeatedly been cited, been fined, and had its license suspended. Even though it’s currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), recent visitors to the roadside zoo report having seen a sickly looking baby camel pacing frantically, a goat who appeared to have an abscess on her face, a capuchin monkey who was missing nearly all the hair on his or her back, cages strewn with feces, and many other animals who paced incessantly in apparent distress. CALE filed a detailed complaint with the USDA asking it to take action against this despicable roadside zoo.
  • Acting on a CALE complaint, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated Georgia’s Yellow River Game Ranch and cited the disreputable roadside zoo for a “serious” violation of federal employee safety laws. Employees had been exposed to potential attacks from black bears and bobcats when they entered the animals’ cages—apparently, without any barriers between them and the animals—during sanitation and feeding. OSHA assessed the roadside zoo a $2,800 penalty.
  • CALE asked the USDA to send an inspector out immediately to check on an elephant traveling with Ringling Bros. who appeared to have a swollen lump on the right side of her face. According to an elephant expert, the lump is likely a pressure wound, something that often develops when elephants who have very little mobility are forced to lie down on hard surfaces.
    pressurewound
  • CALE filed a complaint with the USDA after learning that orcas at SeaWorld Orlando and San Diego have routinely been covered with black zinc oxide to prevent and conceal sunburn. Federal laws require that animals have sufficient shelter from direct sunlight, so SeaWorld cannot legally allow orcas to be seared by the sun.
  • After CALE filed a complaint about Ohio’s Farm at Walnut Creek, a USDA inspector smacked the roadside zoo with citations for seven repeat violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, such as failing to provide apparently sick and/or injured animals, including one who was so thin that her spine and ribs were clearly visible,  with veterinary care; allowing animals to ingest potentially toxic plants; and placing a spring trap—intended to capture muskrats—in a kangaroo enclosure.

Keep checking back for more updates about this division’s lifesaving work.

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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