Feds Cite Local Roadside Zoo for Lion Bite, Dangerous Encounters

For Immediate Release:
April 28, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Miami – A just-released report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that the agency recently slapped former drug kingpin Mario Tabraue’s Zoological Wildlife Foundation (ZWF) with critical citations over an incident in which a lion cub bit a visitor and two incidents—reported to the feds by PETA—in which guests inched perilously close to tigers and a clouded leopard.

The report explains that a lion cub sank his teeth into a guest’s arm during a public encounter, describing the animal as “scared” and “apprehensive.” It also points to social media posts detailed in PETA’s tip, revealing that the roadside zoo had permitted a visitor to enter a clouded leopard’s enclosure and hold the unrestrained animal and that a guest had placed their hand against the fence of a tiger enclosure that had absolutely no safety barrier. Previous injuries at ZWF occurred when a chimpanzee bit a child—prompting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue a warning—and when a lion cub bit a customer during a public interaction, among other incidents. The USDA cited the roadside zoo after a macaque chased and bit another monkey, leaving her with bleeding wounds, and issued a penalty to ZWF after a tiger bit off a construction worker’s finger.

PETA notes that the incidents occurred before the recent passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which bans public contact with big cats, and that the park continues to confine animals in miserable, inadequate conditions. At the same inspection, the agency cited ZWF for failing to keep multiple enclosures clean and in good repair, noting “extremely damaged” wood in a jaguar enclosure and “large holes” near a gate for porcupines.

“ZWF has a long history of exploiting animals to lure in paying visitors, who are then exposed to danger and even allowed to be bitten,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA urges the public to avoid this shoddy outfit of Tiger King infamy, where stressed-out animals live in squalor.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, 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