10 of the Many Reasons Why Roadside Zoos Are Bad for Animals

Roadside zoos are businesses that capitalize on breeding, buying, and selling sentient beings. Their main priority is profit, not the well-being of sensitive, feeling animals. How do we know?

1. Pymatuning Deer Park left a dead animal to rot inside a deer enclosure.

Authorities have cited Pymatuning for numerous violations including enclosures caked with food and feces buildup, failing to provide a young lion with enough light for a diurnal light cycle and for failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care.

2. Workers at The Camel Farm allowed a goat to suffer with a severe limp for over a year.

A cow with severely overgrown hooves stands in a barren, feces-filled pen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the facility seven times for not providing adequate veterinary care and for refusing veterinary recommendations for this animal before finally euthanizing him.

3. Bears at the Cherokee Bear Zoo—and many other roadside zoos—are confined to virtually barren concrete pits.

Other than begging tourists for food scraps, essentially the only thing that these bears can do to pass the time is pace back and forth and walk in endless circles.

4. Animal Adventure Park treated April the giraffe like a breeding machine.

In nature, giraffes aren’t completely weaned until they’re at least 1 year old, and mothers and their calves often stay together for their entire lives. However, April was separated from all her calves when they were between the ages of a few weeks old to a year and a half. Even worse, Animal Adventure Park livestreamed the births as a ridiculous moneymaking scheme.

5. Facilities like the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation acquire big-cat and bear cubs from notorious breeders and force them to do photo ops, all while claiming to be a sanctuary.

Once the cubs are too big for public encounters, they’re sent elsewhere or confined to cramped cages in which most pace incessantly.

6. Bears at Oswald’s Bear Ranch have died prematurely, in many disturbing ways.

Bears who have been under the watch of workers at Oswald’s Bear Ranch have been shot to death, been trapped in a collapsed den, suffered a “drug overdose,” and suddenly died from unknown or undisclosed causes, and half a dozen more have been slaughtered. Oswald’s told a state inspector in 2017 that a “mean” bear should be “made into jerky.”

7. This is what Ben’s face looked like when he lived at Tregembo Animal Park.

Ben suffered from severe lesions on his eyes, nose, and mouth. The damage left his corneas permanently scarred, and his vision is likely impaired. PETA rescued Ben from Tregembo Animal Park. He now lives at a beautiful sanctuary where he can finally climb, dig, run, and hibernate.

8. At Waccatee Zoological Farm and other roadside zoos, imprisoned animals have psychological breakdowns.

For years, big cats, bears, and other animals trapped at Waccatee Zoological Farm have been witnessed pacing and baboons have been seen swaying and rolling their heads. A macaque and a capuchin have been seen frantically biting and attacking themselves—all signs of extreme psychological distress.

9. Animals at Wilson’s Wild Animal Park are left to fry in the hot Virginia sun without any water to soak in and cool themselves.

They look miserable — can you imagine what the heat feels like for them?

Posted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on Saturday, June 3, 2017

These bears have no escape from their cramped, hot concrete-floored cage, and their inadequate water trough is typically empty.

10. Zootastic Park “euthanizes” rabbits by hitting them with hammers.

Zootastic USDA inspection

This roadside zoo also puts the public’s health at risk—for example, a calf who was being treated for highly contagious ringworm was not separated from visitors by an adequate barrier, and a monkey used for public encounters had not been tested for tuberculosis. In addition, during an encounter, a tourist was bit by a tiger cub.


These are only a few of the many examples of ways in which roadside zoos have failed the animals they claim to care for. Such facilities are still a nightmare for animals—but victory by victory, we will dismantle this cruel industry.

Using PETA’s form below, please speak out against disgraceful roadside zoos today:

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