Group Contends Government Has Failed to Enforce Animal Welfare Act, Leaving Birds in Roadside Zoos Unprotected
For Immediate Release:
June 6, 2013
David Perle 202-483-7382, ext. 2194
Haiku, Hawaii — PETA has filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its failure to protect birds covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including those at Haiku’s East Maui Animal Refuge. Although birds used by exhibitors such as East Maui Animal Refuge have been covered by the AWA since 2002, the USDA—which is charged with enforcing the statute—has unequivocally stated that “birds are not being regulated by Animal Care” and has taken no action in response to complaints regarding exhibited birds found suffering from injuries and illness, filthy enclosures, and contaminated water, among other violations.
PETA investigated East Maui Animal Refuge in 2011 and found a pueo (Hawaiian owl) with two broken wings, a second pueo with a broken wing, and a blind owl permanently confined to a small travel crate who exhibited symptoms of bumblefoot—an excruciatingly painful and debilitating condition characterized by swelling and blisters—among other incidents. The USDA took no action in response to PETA’s June 1, 2011, complaint, and other agencies had to step in for a multi-agency raid in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated 17 migratory birds.
“The USDA has waved aside egregious neglect of and cruelty to birds, even though the agency has a legal mandate to protect these animals under the federal Animal Welfare Act,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “This regulatory failure is one reason why PETA urges everyone to stay away from roadside zoos, where animals are subject to abuse and neglect.”
Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include roadside zoos in Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.