Evil Bidding: Triple W Exotic Animal Auction Cited by Feds Again Over Welfare Issues

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4 min read

Update (March 3, 2023): Eleven new citations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may have the public rethinking visits to the Triple W Exotic Animal Auction at the Wilson Horse & Mule Sale stockyard in Cookeville, Tennessee. In fact, all four Triple W exotic-animal auctions held in 2022 resulted in citations from the feds—a total of 29 citations came from USDA inspections from March through November. The citations paint a picture of nightmarish conditions for the animals at these auctions, ones that result in preventable suffering, constant potential discomfort and stress, and even death.

After its auction in September, Triple W received citations for the following issues, among others:

  • Failing to provide a black llama, who was later found dead by the USDA, with adequate veterinary care (According to an auction staff member, the animal “spent the morning constantly sitting down,” but instead of notifying the veterinarian, staff took him to the sale ring.)
A deceased llama found by an inspector in an enclosure at Triple W Exotic Animal Auction
Deceased llama found by inspector in enclosure.
  • Failing to handle multiple animals properly, including allowing a pen to become so severely crowded that “the sheep had no room to turn around or lie down” and allowing a goat to escape (In addition, an employee kicked a goat until noticing that the inspector was present.)
An enclosure overcrowded with sheep and goats at Triple W Exotic Animal Auction
Overcrowded enclosure housing sheep and goats.
  • Failing to provide bison, water buffaloes, sheep, and goats with dry enclosures (Several enclosures had been “completely wet and soaked” for two days, and the inspector saw animals caked with “mud/dirt.”)

PETA notes that the USDA also cited unlicensed dealers who unlawfully sold animals at the auction, one of whom attempted to use an inactive USDA license in another facility’s name. We’re calling on everyone to stay away from this exotic-animal auction, which props up the cruel wildlife trade and breaks the law.

Originally posted on April 19, 2022:

Failing to provide a severely injured zebra with adequate veterinary care, smacking a bison with a 5-foot stick, and leaving an agitated camel vulnerable to unmonitored public contact—these are just a few of the issues that prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to slap the Triple W Exotic Animal Auction, held quarterly each year at the Wilson Horse & Mule Sale stockyard in Cookeville, Tennessee, with 15 citations for failing to meet even the minimum care standards required by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

bison sits in mud at exotic animal auction
Bison in mud at a previous Triple W auction.

Exotic-animal auctions are nightmarish for animals, who are confined to cramped cages, traumatized by loud crowds, and denied adequate veterinary care.

A March USDA inspection report obtained by PETA includes the following citations for Triple W:

  • Failing to provide an acutely injured zebra who was unable to get up or move his back legs with timely emergency veterinary care (Auction workers claimed that the zebra may have fallen and broken his back and planned to kill him by gunshot—after an auction finished—despite lacking documentation to show veterinarian-approved euthanasia procedures. The zebra suffered all afternoon—unattended and crying out—even after USDA inspectors insisted that he receive immediate treatment.)
  • Failing to appropriately diagnose and treat a zebra with fresh-looking wounds on his lower left leg
  • Hitting bison directly on the face and head with the end of a 5-foot stick, causing the animals discomfort and distress
  • Failing to erect barriers between the public and a young camel who showed signs of agitation, including swaying back and forth and crying out, as people crowded around to touch him and take photographs
  • Failing to maintain sanitary and dry enclosures (Stray pieces of sharp-edged metal were found in an enclosure with two water buffaloes, while several enclosures were reported to be wet—some with no dry areas for the animals.)

PETA notes that Triple W has a long history of receiving USDA citations, including for failing to provide animals with adequate shelter during auctions held during inclement weather, keeping animals in cages with soiled bedding, failing to provide animals with potable water, and failing to provide injured animals with adequate veterinary care.

bleeding capybara at exotic animal auction
Bleeding capybara at a previous Triple W auction.

In September 2021, the USDA cited the auction for accepting over 40 animals from unlicensed dealers, and in May 2021, a zebra escaped from a Triple W event.

Never Attend an Exotic-Animal Auction

Please don’t fund the suffering of animals exploited for entertainment. Stay far away from wildlife auctions: Never buy any animals or attend an exotic-animal sale. Urge your friends, family members, and social media followers to do the same.

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