Breaking: Tri-State Zoological Park Must Relinquish Big Cats, Says Court

PETA Wins Endangered Species Act Lawsuit Against Roadside Zoo

For Immediate Release:
December 30, 2019

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Cumberland, Md.

On December 26, following a six-day bench trial that took place in November, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a ruling in PETA’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against Tri-State Zoological Park of Western Maryland, Inc. (“Tri-State”)—and the three federally protected big cats who are currently being held there will now be headed to an accredited sanctuary. The court also prohibited Tri-State from owning or possessing endangered or threatened species in the future. The judge described conditions for ESA-protected animals at the facility as “fetid and dystopic.”

PETA’s lawsuit, which also included Tri-State’s owner and operator Robert Candy and Animal Park, Care & Rescue, Inc., alleged that Tri-State harmed and harassed two lemurs, five tigers, and two lions in violation of federal law by displaying them in decrepit enclosures without appropriate companionship, potable water, or proper enrichment, food, or shelter and by denying them adequate veterinary care. Since PETA notified Tri-State of its intent to file suit in December 2016, five of the nine animals originally at issue have died, including a lemur who had ripped off the tip of his penis and a tiger named India who was so ravaged by sepsis that pus-filled pockets had formed in her heart, tongue, and diaphragm. The court found that all these animals died prematurely and endured tragic deaths and that Tri-State’s failure to provide them with adequate veterinary care violated the ESA.

“This landmark ruling sends Tri-State and every other roadside zoo a clear message that keeping social species in isolation and sentencing sick animals to slow, painful deaths will not be tolerated,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “For more than a decade, PETA has fought tooth and nail for the animals at Tri-State, and we’re pleased that the court has given these survivors a new lease on life.”

PETA previously filed a motion for summary judgment against Tri-State, prompting a federal judge to issue a first-of-its-kind ruling that the facility’s failure to provide a now-deceased tiger named Cayenne with adequate veterinary care “harmed” her, in violation of the ESA.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

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