For Immediate Release:
November 14, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
West Union, Ill. – PETA just learned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revoked the federal license of notorious roadside zoo operator Thomas Edmonds—permanently banning him from exhibiting animals regulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—and levied a fine of $25,100 against him. According to the formal complaint submitted by the USDA that led to the license revocation, Edmonds’ roadside zoo, Walnut Prairie Wildside, racked up more than 65 alleged violations of the AWA over four years.
The complaint alleged that Edmonds failed to provide adequate veterinary care for multiple animals, including two vervet monkeys and a ring-tailed lemur, who all died; failed to provide animals with adequate shelter and water; failed to handle animals properly, including allowing unsupervised contact between animals and members of the public, resulting in a visitor dropping a tiger cub on her head and multiple visitors (including children) being bitten by animals; and allowed a volunteer to feed an adult tiger an egg from her mouth, among other violations.
A cat with eye discharge and a ring-tailed lemur at Walnut Prairie Wildside. Credit: PETA
“Animals have suffered and died in Thomas Edmonds’ negligent and incompetent hands for years,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA applauds the USDA for finally taking the necessary steps to put this shady exhibitor out of business and urges everyone to stay far away from all roadside zoos.”
PETA repeatedly alerted the USDA to ongoing and serious concerns at Walnut Prairie Wildside, which resulted in many of the alleged AWA violations being noted in the USDA’s complaint. More information about Edmonds’ history of AWA citations is available here.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—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 X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.