Feds Refuse to Release Roadside Zoo’s Damning Records, Citing ‘Privacy Interest’

PETA Files Appeal Over USDA's Refusal to Hand Over Animal-Welfare Records Related to the Facility

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 2018

Contact:
Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Oroville, Calif. – This morning, PETA filed an appeal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contending that the agency is violating the Freedom of Information Act by withholding inspection reports, photographs, and other records relating to the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation, an Oroville-based roadside zoo.

Nearly a year after PETA requested the records, the USDA responded by providing only four pages of them—out of 147—in full, saying that it wouldn’t hand over the withheld information because the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation had a “substantial privacy interest” that should be protected. Among other violations, the roadside zoo was cited in 2017 for failing to provide a young lion named Lucie with a proper diet and adequate veterinary care, including for severe lameness—which was possibly a result of metabolic bone disease caused by a dietary deficiency—even though she was found to be “uncomfortable … and unwilling to stand.”

“If the USDA were doing its job, the ‘interest’ that would take precedence would be that of the animals held at this slipshod roadside zoo,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The agency should be enforcing the law—not shielding lawbreakers from scrutiny—and PETA will keep fighting for access to vital information, including these records.”

The USDA’s own Office of Inspector General has taken the agency to task for failing to document violations adequately, which puts animals at higher risk of being neglected or abused. That’s why 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 by filing lawsuits and taking other actions ever since the agency removed thousands of inspection reports from its website.

In 2015, the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation paid a penalty of more than $5,000 for numerous alleged violations of animal-welfare laws, including failing to provide animals with appropriate cooling measures when temperatures reached over 100 degrees, failing to provide a tiger with an eye injury and a lynx with limb pain with adequate veterinary care, and allowing members of the public to engage in dangerous direct contact with lions, a tiger, and a bear.

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