Feds Cite Local Roadside Zoo Over Elk’s Death, After Tip From PETA

For Immediate Release:
September 6, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Roswell, N.M.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) slapped Spring River Park & Zoo with a critical, repeat citation after PETA reported that an elk broke her leg there and was euthanized. This is the second time in just over a year that the city-owned roadside zoo has been cited for failing to maintain safe enclosures, resulting in animal escapes and now death.

According to the USDA inspection report just obtained by PETA, workers moved two adult elk, Patty and Garrett, from an off-exhibit pen to an on-exhibit enclosure with a hole in the paneling of its fence. Public records reveal that visitor exposure distressed both animals, causing them to attempt to flee through the hole. Patty ensnared her leg in the paneling and sustained what the USDA describes as an irreparable injury.

“An elk shattered a leg bone and had to be put down because this ramshackle roadside zoo continues to risk the safety of both animals and visitors,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA urges everyone to avoid Spring River Park & Zoo and is calling on it to send the animals it keeps imprisoned there to reputable facilities, where they would receive the proper care they need.”

Spring River has a history of animal welfare failures. In 2021, the roadside zoo was slapped with USDA citations for failing to provide the equipment needed to treat a stumbling, underweight longhorn steer with overgrown hooves and failing to maintain structurally sound enclosures, which allowed a black bear and a beaver to escape, the latter of whom was never found.

The federal agency has also cited this roadside zoo for lacking any exercise plan for a wolf-dog hybrid, any enrichment plan for ring-tailed lemurs, and adequate records for the transfer of two black bears and a mountain lion. PETA notes that Spring River confines the bears to a concrete pit and houses many animals in cramped, barren enclosures as if they were objects, not sentient beings with needs.

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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