Soon, two bears and two mountain lions will be saying goodbye to the virtually barren concrete pits that they’ve been confined to for years at the Spring River Park & Zoo and will be calling spacious new habitats home.
PETA has been advocating in behalf of the animals at the city-owned zoo in Roswell, New Mexico, urging officials to take action on serious welfare issues and offering to relocate animals to reputable sanctuaries. While inhumane concrete pits were used to confine bears and mountain lions, tiny antiquated “corn crib” cages—round wire contraptions with concrete floors and roofs that completely block the sky, like something straight out of the 1930s—were used to hold other animals, including foxes, bobcats, and coatimundis.
Our concerns were initially met with resistance to change and an unwillingness to make improvements. So PETA launched a campaign that included submitting complaints to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, posting videos of the conditions at the zoo on social media, and sending an action alert to PETA supporters. It worked.
Crucial personnel changes have since been made, and the city has taken significant steps in the right direction, including contracting with a well-regarded design firm to develop the zoo’s Master Plan, hiring new and experienced zookeepers, pursuing keeper staff training from reputable zoos, improving environmental enrichment plans for animals, and implementing an animal husbandry training program—all key elements for modern captive wildlife facilities. Most importantly, the zoo will be building lush new habitats to get the animals out of the wire cages and concrete pits.
Spring River is already a “rescue” zoo, meaning that it doesn’t breed or buy any animals. Rescuing animals who can’t be released back into nature is increasingly a focus of reputable zoos, and this is an area in which Spring River can be a leader. PETA looks forward to the day when we can add it to the list of responsible facilities that we work with to place animals who need excellent lifetime care.