Animal Deaths at Spring River Park & Zoo Have PETA Working to Shut It Down

For Immediate Release:
January 6, 2023

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Roswell, N.M. – Today, after learning that three inadequately protected Barbary sheep and a wallaby were all attacked and killed by dogs who had dug under a fence at Spring River Park & Zoo, PETA fired off letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Mayor Timothy Jennings, pushing for the revocation of the facility’s exhibitor license and the closure of the roadside zoo, respectively, as these are not the first fatalities there.

In its letters, PETA points out that inadequate fencing and housing at the roadside zoo led to the deaths of five animals in 2022, including the four killed by dogs, as recently as December 28. The group also notes that the USDA cited Spring River Zoo over an elk who had to be killed after her leg became caught in a piece of broken fencing, “multiple breaches” with large gaps in its fencing, and multiple escapes, including those of a black bear, and a beaver who was never found.

“The numerous fatalities and escapes at Spring River show that it either can’t or won’t provide animals with necessary care,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “It’s high time for the local or federal government to shut down this miserable roadside zoo and send the animals to reputable facilities before the body count gets any higher.”

Spring River’s history of animal welfare failures also includes USDA citations for failing to treat a stumbling and underweight longhorn steer with overgrown hooves, having no exercise plan for a wolf-dog hybrid, lacking any environmental enrichment plan for ring-tailed lemurs, and keeping inadequate records for the transfer of two black bears and a mountain lion. PETA notes that Spring River confines bears to an antiquated concrete pit and houses many animals in cramped enclosures as if they were objects rather than sentient beings.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind