After Two Tiger Cubs Drown, Our Eyes Are on Shalom Wildlife ‘Sanctuary’

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3 min read

Shalom Wildlife “Sanctuary,” a misleadingly named roadside zoo in West Bend, Wisconsin, has made headlines for the drowning deaths of two tiger cubs who were born at the facility. Accidents happen, but Shalom’s history of irresponsibility needs to be examined. Since its opening in 2014, the facility has maintained dubious ties to breeders and has been cited for numerous handling violations.

Recent Incidents at Shalom

July 2022: Shalom failed to have an attendant present for public feedings and allowed members of the public to bring their own food to give to animals—an extremely risky move that had apparently been allowed for years.

May 2021: A woman hopped the shoddy fence to Shalom’s bear enclosure and hand-fed two bears—she was also able to pet bobcats by the same means. The owner only became aware of her behavior—which was extraordinarily dangerous to herself and the animals at the roadside zoo—while being shown videos of the incident that had been posted on social media. Shalom banned the woman, but the harm had already been done: The facility’s responsibility is to protect animals from such behavior, but it failed.

2017: The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Shalom for failing to have public barriers in front of many enclosures. The lack of these critical safety features puts the public at risk at this roadside zoo.

Shalom Keeps Bad Company

Shalom Wildlife “Sanctuary” chooses to do business with some of the worst suppliers. In 2021, it acquired two bear cubs who were bred by Yellowstone Bear World—where a PETA investigation found that bears were threatened with beatings—in a shady series of deals. The cubs, who had already endured the trauma of being torn away from their mother, were shuffled between several people in the span of five days on their way to Shalom, no doubt adding to their stress.

The facility also acquired two tiger cubs from Animal Haven Zoo, an infamous hellhole where animals suffer in dilapidated enclosures, have received insufficient veterinary care, and have been made to live amid piled-up waste, among other things. Like the bear cubs, these two cubs had been ripped away from their mother while they were still infants.

Shalom Is No Sanctuary

If Shalom were a real animal sanctuary, things would be much different. Tiger cubs, or babies of any kind, should never be brought into the world just to be gawked at. The drowning of these cubs—and the extreme grief it caused their mother, Ginger—could have been prevented by choosing not to breed wild animals for human entertainment.

Potential visitors to any facility or park that includes captive animals should look for sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Member sanctuaries must observe a strict code of ethics and meet animal welfare standards that far exceed the minimal ones outlined in the federal Animal Welfare Act. Reputable sanctuaries never breed animals or force them to engage in public encounters, which are dangerous for them and human visitors alike. They also make every effort to replicate an animal’s natural habitat.

Speak Out Against Roadside Zoos

When roadside zoos and breeders work in cahoots, animals lose. But we won’t let it happen in silence. Everyone who speaks out for animals brings us a step closer to dismantling networks that exploit them for profit. Please, help the animals at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary’s shady suppliers by taking these actions:

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