Bear Kept Without Sunlight, Outdoor Access at Monroe Zoo

PETA Calls On USDA to Refuse to Issue License to Abusive Facility

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Monroe, La.

A bear at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, also known as the Monroe Zoo, was kept isolated in a tiny windowless enclosure for nearly four years, depriving the animal of any access to the outdoors or natural light, which, according to a bear behaviorist with decades of experience, causes bears great suffering. PETA has just learned that the roadside zoo’s exhibitor’s license was canceled, so this morning PETA sent an urgent letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking it to deny any request from the facility for a new license. Animal inventories on USDA inspection reports indicate that the agency knew about the bear’s living conditions since at least 2011 but did nothing until this year—and then only after PETA prodded it to act.

“The Louisiana Purchase roadside zoo is a hellhole for the animals held captive and neglected there,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The USDA is fully aware of this facility’s long history of noncompliance with animal-protection laws and cannot lawfully issue it a license to continue to harm the animals by violating those laws.”

Also, in December PETA submitted a complaint to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which had placed the bear at the roadside zoo. In February, the agency responded by acknowledging that the animal, who has since been transferred to a sanctuary, was kept in an enclosure that was “not an ideal” one. The facility, which is owned by the city of Monroe, was cited in February for seven violations, and the USDA would need to confirm that all of them have been corrected before issuing a license. But based on a new report from a visitor who was at the facility—which was open to the public despite apparently not being licensed to exhibit animals—just this past weekend, some of the items cited by the USDA, including that the public can apparently make direct contact with the warthogs, still persist. The visitor also reported other apparent violations: Primates paced out of stress in solitary confinement, an electric wire fence was broken and making audible electrical snapping sounds, and animals had no apparent source of water on a day when the temperature reached 88 degrees.

For more information, please visit PETA’s blog.


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