Feds Slap Roadside Zoo With $7,500 Penalty Following Animal Deaths, Human Injuries

For Immediate Release:
September 24, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Tacoma, Wash. – A newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report obtained by PETA reveals that the agency has cited and fined local petting zoo Debbie Doolittle’s Animal Experience following the deaths of two animals and injuries to over six dozen humans.

Accordingly to the report, Debbie Doolittle’s acquired a tamandua (a type of anteater) and never quarantined him, acclimated him to his new environment, or had him examined by a veterinarian. He suffered from weight loss and was found dead just three weeks after arriving. A sloth named Malia died after falling from a climbing structure, and a necropsy revealed that at the time of death, she was suffering from severe emaciation, indications of chronic stress, and bruising, which were found to be “consistent with mishandling, neglect and ignorance of animal care.” And at least 79 members of the public were injured during interactions with animals, including a guest who was bitten and left bloody by an otter. The USDA issued a $7,500 penalty to the roadside zoo.

“This petting zoo is evidently almost as dangerous for visitors as it is for the animals trapped there,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA urges everyone to avoid this sleazy operation as though their safety depends on it, because it does.”

The USDA report also notes that Debbie Doolittle’s failed to secure a metal ramp adequately in an enclosure housing fennec foxes, one of whom consequently was injured so severely that her leg had to be amputated.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—previously called for cruelty charges over Malia’s death. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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