Feds Fear Inspection Report Could ‘Embarrass’ Roadside Zoo

PETA Files Legal Appeal Over USDA's Refusal to Hand Over Animal-Welfare Records Related to Pocono Snake & Animal Farm

For Immediate Release:
June 7, 2018

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Marshalls Creek, Pa. – This afternoon, PETA filed an appeal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contending that the agency is violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by withholding records pertaining to a PETA complaint about Pocono Snake & Animal Farm, a roadside zoo in Marshalls Creek with a history of federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. Nearly two years after PETA submitted a FOIA request for these records, the agency responded by saying that it wouldn’t provide information about the roadside zoo’s AWA compliance in order to protect the facility from “embarrassment or harassment.”

In April 2016, PETA alerted the USDA to an eyewitness account of a bear struggling to walk and a squirrel monkey with a bloody tail and a leg wound who was lying nearly motionless at the roadside zoo. A since-removed inspection report posted on the USDA’s website shows that the agency subsequently cited the roadside zoo for failing to provide the squirrel monkey, two other monkeys, and a potbellied pig suffering from hair loss with adequate veterinary care. But in its FOIA response to PETA, the USDA redacted not only this report but also the documents that fully explain how the agency responded to PETA’s complaint.

“Any roadside zoo exhibiting a bloody monkey curled up in the fetal position should be embarrassed—and so should the USDA for allowing this hellhole to stay open,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The USDA should be holding these facilities to the requirements of the law, not protecting them from scrutiny, and PETA will keep fighting for access to pieces of vital information, such as these records.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has been campaigning against the USDA’s lack of transparency ever since the agency removed thousands of inspection reports from its website. The group has published many of the scrubbed documents, filed lawsuits against the agency over the blackout, and more.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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