Feds Slap Spring River Zoo With Fine After Years of Animal Escapes and Deaths

For Immediate Release:
June 7, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Roswell, N.M.

PETA has just obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) records revealing that the agency has fined local Spring River Zoo $4,500—a penalty reserved for the worst roadside zoos—for multiple alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act dating back to 2020.

The alleged violations—several of which PETA reported to the USDA—include an incident last year in which stray dogs dug under a shoddy perimeter fence and killed three Barbary sheep and a wallaby; another fatal occurrence, in which an elk had to be euthanized after she broke her leg by ensnaring it in a missing fence panel; and two instances of failing to provide veterinary care to a stumbling and underweight longhorn steer with overgrown hooves. Among other incidents, a black bear and a beaver escaped enclosures through inadequate fencing—the bear was discovered walking around on the roof of her enclosure, where she was tranquilized and recaptured, but the beaver was never found.

“Because of Spring River’s failures, vulnerable animals have been mauled to death, sustained debilitating injuries, and disappeared, never to be seen again,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA urges the city of Roswell to shut down Spring River before more animals die or escape from its ramshackle cages.”

In just the past few years, the USDA has cited Spring River for numerous other violations, including having no exercise plan for a wolf-dog hybrid and no environmental enrichment plan for ring-tailed lemurs, as well as facility issues, including elk and longhorn enclosures that were “littered with large piles of rubble/discarded materials … and general junk” and a meat refrigerator that contained “thick, brownish to pink fluid that [had] pooled and dried in the drawers and on the shelves.”

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 about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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