Death of Chimpanzee Prompts PETA Call for Investigation of Wynnewood Facility

Video Shows That Notorious Exhibitor Runs Afoul of Law Again, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
March 18, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wynnewood, Okla.

A female chimpanzee named Bongo was found dead—or dying—on the floor of her cage, and if Joe Schreibvogel knows the cause of her death, he isn’t saying. Schreibvogel is the operator of The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood and has a long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Dozens of tigers and other animals at the menagerie have died—including 23 tiger cubs over a seven-month period. That’s why PETA has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for an immediate investigation of Bongo’s death, along with another chimpanzee death mentioned in a disturbing video titled “The Death of a Friend,” and other possible AWA violations.

“Joe Schreibvogel’s facility is a deathtrap for animals,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Given the mysterious circumstances of Bongo’s death—along with Schreibvogel’s history of other unexplained animal deaths—PETA is asking the USDA to investigate with a fine-tooth comb and, if wrongdoing is revealed, to hold all responsible parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Schreibvogel is already the subject of at least four USDA investigations, and he has faced prior USDA enforcement action. Some of the potential new violations include the following:

  • Infant animals were likely handled improperly. In the video, Schreibvogel holds two very young animals—likely puppies—near the bars of a chimpanzee’s cage and encourages the chimpanzee to pet them, which she does several times. Attacks by chimpanzees—who are stronger than humans—are common, many through cage bars.
  • The AWA provides that primates should be housed separately if they exhibit overly aggressive behavior. The video suggests that the male chimpanzee who shared Bongo’s enclosure may have contributed to her death.
  • The video strongly suggests that the facility doesn’t have the required sufficient number of trained employees to care for primates properly.

For more information and to see PETA’s letter to the USDA, please visit PETA’s blog.

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