Feds Order Notorious Zoo to Clean Up Its Act Following PETA Complaint

Bears Forced to Drink Filthy Water; Giraffe With Badly Overgrown Hooves Denied Care at Natural Bridge Zoo

For Immediate Release:
October 2, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Natural Bridge, Va. — A newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report reveals that following PETA’s complaint, the agency cited the Natural Bridge Zoo—an unaccredited roadside menagerie with an abysmal history of animal care—with two violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The facility has been forcing bears confined to a virtually barren concrete cage to drink filthy water from the same small trough that they bathe in and has also failed to trim a giraffe’s severely overgrown hooves, a condition that can be painful and lead to serious lameness. Although the roadside zoo had been given until August 23, 2013, to provide the bears with a source of clean drinking water, a visitor at the facility on September 30 reported that the bathing trough remained their only water source. According to the visitor, the giraffe’s hooves also remained untrimmed.

PETA had recently contacted state and local officials regarding the animals’ deplorable conditions and did so again on October 1.

“Confining animals to enclosures that deny them everything that’s natural and important to them is bad enough. Apparently, Natural Bridge Zoo can’t even provide them with clean drinking water or the veterinary care that they’re entitled to under the law,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “PETA urges anyone whose kids love animals not to go anywhere near this despicable roadside menagerie.”

This isn’t the first time that Natural Bridge Zoo has run afoul of the law. Earlier this year, the USDA cited it for failing to provide guinea pigs, who were living outdoors in temperatures that reached below 40 degrees, with heat. Several years ago, the USDA ordered the facility’s owner to pay a $10,000 penalty and suspended his license following formal charges for 13 violations, including filthy and dilapidated enclosures and unsafe fencing. According to news reports, the USDA also fined him in 2004, following the escape of two bears, who were subsequently shot and killed, and prior to that, he had been assessed another civil penalty of $10,000 and had his license suspended for, among other things, failure to provide adequate space, veterinary care, food, and water.  

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