Feds Bust ‘Walnut Prairie Wildside’ After PETA Push

For Immediate Release:
July 8, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

West Union, Ill. – Following PETA complaints, the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected local roadside zoo Walnut Prairie Wildside three times and slapped its owner, Thomas Edmonds, with a 21-day license suspension over a slew of federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) citations, including after two sick monkeys died without receiving veterinary care.

Other citations documented in the March 10, April 29, and June 3 inspection reports, which have just become publicly available, include Edmonds’ failure to supply veterinary care to a seriously thin and dehydrated cougar and to an opossum whose ears were covered with scabs for almost a year. Edmonds lacked a formal agreement with an attending veterinarian, a written program of veterinary care, and, in one inspector’s words, “any recognized training with tigers.” According to the inspector, the obesity of two tigers—who panted after taking just a few steps—along with photographs of a volunteer feeding a tiger a boiled egg out of her mouth and a tiger licking and mouthing the top of another volunteer’s head showed “lack of experience and knowledge of this dangerous animal by all those involved.”

“This Tiger King wannabe has no idea what he’s doing, and animals are suffering because of his ignorance,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA wants this backyard menagerie shut down now, before someone gets mauled or another animal dies.”

Other AWA citations include those for allowing a child to stick her fingers into a cougar’s cage, allowing an unrestrained snow macaque to climb onto people’s laps and sit on children’s shoulders, and failing to provide animals with adequate shelter, water, clean enclosures, and enrichment. More information about Edmonds’ past AWA violations is available here.

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 PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind