Bear Dead After Inadequate Vet Care

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Update: The hellish saga continues at Oklahoma’s Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park (G.W. Zoo)—a bear died in this latest incident. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) records that just became publicly available, the zoo failed to supply adequate veterinary care to the bear, who was apparently left to languish and bleed on a dirt floor in a cage for two weeks after allegedly being mauled by another bear.

We learned about the bear’s plight after a visitor to the facility told us that the animal was extremely lethargic and appeared unable to stand. We got the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to go out the next morning, and this was followed by a visit from the USDA. The USDA inspector noted that a zoo staffer, not a veterinarian, had attempted to stitch up the bear’s 4- to 8-inch wound. The animal was eventually euthanized.

Updated April 15, 2014:

Update: PETA received a worried call from a witness who said that she had spotted an unresponsive bear lying in a cage at the G.W. Zoo, along with what appeared to be fresh blood. PETA alerted the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A game warden raced to the G.W. Zoo the same day, the USDA got there the next day, and the bear was apparently peacefully euthanized. Strangely, the facility’s owner, Joe Schreibvogel, posted a message on his Facebook page stating that the bear had been mauled by another bear a full two weeksearlier. The evidence suggests that Schreibvogel had deprived the bear of needed veterinary care after the attack and thus made him suffer further, an apparent violation of Oklahoma law. PETA is now asking the district attorney to pursue cruelty-to-animals charges against Schreibvogel. If convicted of this felony cruelty offense, he’ll face one to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000. And Schreibvogel is currently the subject of at least four other USDA investigations.

Updated October 8, 2013:

Update: A G.W. zoo worker was reportedly attacked by a tiger on Saturday after putting her arm inside the tiger’s cage. She was injured so severely that she nearly lost the arm. The zoo’s operator, Joe Schreibvogel, blamed the worker, saying that it was “her fault” and that there was “no other way of avoiding this other than handcuffing my employees’ hands behind their backs.” This is not the first time that one of the frustrated big cats at G.W. zoo has lashed out: Numerous visitors have been injured, and Schreibvogel himself was bitten on the hand by a cougar in 2002, nearly severing his thumb and a finger. PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging it to investigate the latest attack.

Originally posted September 27, 2013:

The name may have changed, but The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, formerly known as G.W. Exotic Animal Park, is still up to the same old tricks—abusing animals. And PETA is still fighting to shut this hellhole down.

We’ve called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to refuse to renew the Oklahoma menagerie’s Animal Welfare Act license, citing the facility’s long history of animal-care violations, including the recent deaths of two tiger cubs born at the facility as well as the deaths of nearly two dozen other tiger cubs in a seven-month period. Joe Schreibvogel, who holds the license authorizing G.W. to exhibit animals, has also incurred enormous debts, totaling between $1 million and $10 million, which inhibit his ability to care properly for the more than 100 big cats and other animals at the facility.

PETA conducted an undercover investigation at the roadside zoo back in 2006 and documented horrific neglect and abuse, including dead, dying, and injured animals; extremely crowded conditions; a serious lack of basic necessities, such as food, water, and veterinary care; inadequate cages; and untrained and insufficient staff, who were intentionally cruel to numerous animals. We documented the following abuses, among others:

  • Animals were routinely hit, kicked, sprayed with cold water, struck with rakes and shovels, and blasted with fire extinguishers to break up frequent fights.
  • Incompatible animals were not separated, and many were seriously injured from fighting with one another.
  • In one gruesome attack, a lion named Julie’s front leg was torn off and eaten by two tigers. She ripped out the stitches in her stump and was given nothing for the pain.
  • Two healthy adult tigers were killed, and their teeth were reportedly cut out to be given away as gifts.
  • Animals frequently escaped because of inadequate cages and careless personnel.
  • Two badly injured horses in excruciating pain, including one formerly used for racing who had a broken leg, were dumped at the zoo, and staff let them suffer for days before they were butchered.
  • Lit cigarettes and cigars were given to primates.
  • Lion and tiger cubs born at the facility were typically removed from their mothers immediately after birth and then were often declawed—a practice that the USDA has now banned—and taken on the road.
  • Employees were instructed to falsify paperwork required by the USDA regarding animal feeding schedules as well as environmental enrichment for primates.
  • The “contingency plan” for escaped animals during storms was to shoot to kill.

PETA’s investigator witnessed this litany of horrors just one month after Schreibvogel’s license was suspended for 18 months and he was fined $25,000 as a result of more than 197 Animal Welfare Act violations.

What You Can Do

Please join PETA in contacting the USDA, and ask that the agency not renew G.W.’s federal license.

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