Animal Exploiters Under Fire for Apparently Illegally Transporting Big Cats

PETA Calls On Feds to Hold Former Natural Bridge Zoo Employees Responsible for Alleged Unlawful Animal Transport

For Immediate Release:
February 5, 2015

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Natural Bridge, Va. – PETA sent an urgent letter today calling on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate Gretchen Mogensen and Paul Malagerio for reportedly fleeing Virginia with two cougars and a tiger from the notorious Natural Bridge Zoo, transporting the animals across state lines to a South Carolina roadside zoo known as T.I.G.E.R.S. The pair was recently exposed on video striking tiger cubs in the face while peddling photo opportunities with the cats at Natural Bridge Zoo. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is asking the FWS to hold the exhibitors accountable for apparently violating the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which prohibits the interstate transport of big cats by unlicensed individuals.

“This apparently illegal transport proves, once again, that the priority of these animal exploiters is profit, not the well-being of the animals or respect for the laws designed to protect these animals,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the authorities to show that these individuals can’t get away with abusing animals, apparently breaking the law, or fleeing the scrutiny they’re under.”

Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Natural Bridge Zoo owner Karl Mogensen—Gretchen Mogensen’s father—for 78 violations of federal animal-protection laws, including, among others, failure to provide animals with adequate veterinary care, clean drinking water, adequately heated housing, and safe and secure enclosures.

T.I.G.E.R.S. is no less notorious: Its owner, Bhagavan Antle, has a decades-long history of violating federal animal-protection laws, including recent citations for failing to house dozens of adult tigers in secure enclosures and allowing one 700-pound tiger to escape into a group of visitors.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“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