Animal Supplier for Local Pet Store Under Criminal Investigation Following PETA Video

Exotic-Pet Distributor Near Fort Myers Sourced Animals From Notoriously Cruel Breeding Mill

For Immediate Release:
March 1, 2021

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Ft. Myers, Fla.

Following the release of undercover footage showing chinchillas suffering from open wounds, a severed limb with exposed bones, chronic eye ailments, severe matting, and other painful, untreated conditions at Moulton Chinchilla Ranch (MCR), PETA sent a letter to Reptile Express owner Donald B. Chilton today, asking the Lehigh Acres–based pet distributor to reconsider its relationship with the massive breeding mill near Chatfield, Minnesota.

“No reputable business would associate itself with a breeding mill whose long-documented animal welfare violations have resulted in more than 100 federal citations,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “This abject neglect is exactly why PETA is calling on Reptile Express to reconsider its relationship with this notoriously cruel supplier immediately and urging the public never to buy animals from pet stores or breeders.”

A PETA eyewitness who worked at the supplier to Reptile Express gathered evidence showing that nearly 1,000 chinchillas were confined to cramped, exposed wire cages and denied veterinary care for abscesses and pus-filled eyes, among other serious conditions. Based on PETA’s evidence, authorities executed a search warrant and opened a criminal investigation, and more than 35,000 people nationwide have joined the group’s call for Reptile Express to stop buying and selling chinchillas. Atlas Pet Supply, near Minneapolis, has dropped MCR as a supplier and is reevaluating its sale of any chinchillas after its CEO called conditions there “entirely unacceptable.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Chilton follows.

March 1, 2021

Donald B. Chilton


Reptile Express, Inc.

Dear Mr. Chilton:

We respectfully request your immediate attention regarding the disturbing findings of our undercover investigation into your supplier, Moulton Chinchilla Ranch (MCR), a massive breeding mill near Chatfield, Minnesota. The situation at MCR is an emergency that demands your prompt action. 

I urge you to watch our investigative footage, which reveals that chinchillas at MCR were denied veterinary care for swollen, pus-filled eyes; severely overgrown teeth; painfully matted coats; a burst mammary abscess; and other distressing conditions. One chinchilla had a mutilated foot, but MCR’s owner denied her any care for this excruciating injury, which left a bloody stump with exposed bones. PETA’s investigator rescued her and rushed her for emergency veterinary care, but her leg had to be amputated. MCR chinchillas have also been infected with Streptococcus zooepidemicus, a highly contagious pathogen transmissible to humans that causes conjunctivitis and abscesses.

After being alerted to the chronic deprivation and misery at MCR, the CEO of Atlas Pet Supply, near Minneapolis, called the conditions there “completely unacceptable,” dropped the mill as a supplier, and is reevaluating the sale of chinchillas. The veterinarian who leads the veterinary technician program at a college near MCR told us that she was “shocked” and “disturbed” by the footage and that the school will no longer take its students there on class field trips.

More than 35,000 compassionate people nationwide have joined us in calling on you to help end this suffering and stop obtaining chinchillas. Will you please reconsider your relationship with MCR right away and let us know your plans with regard to selling chinchillas going forward?

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sarah Deffinger

Evidence Analyst

Cruelty Investigations Department


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