Feds Slap ‘Walnut Prairie Wildside’ With Animal Welfare Complaint

For Immediate Release:
March 10, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

West Union, Ill.

One of PETA’s “most-wanted” animal abusers is in hot water with the feds again. According to records just obtained by the group, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently slapped Thomas Edmonds of local roadside zoo Walnut Prairie Wildside with a formal complaint for more than 65 alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The formal complaint notes Edmonds’ “flagrant disregard” for the AWA, haphazard “‘learn as he goes’ mantra,” lack of response to written violations, and history of exhibiting without a license.

The complaint lists, among other alleged violations, that Edmonds did the following:

  • Repeatedly failed to provide animals with adequate veterinary care, including two vervet monkeys and a ring-tailed lemur, who all died, and a young cougar who was thin, exhibiting signs of dehydration, and suffering from diarrhea
  • Failed to provide domestic cats with adequate shelter and water and failed to provide primates with adequate water
  • Repeatedly failed to handle animals properly, including allowing unsupervised contact between the animals and members of the public, resulting in a visitor dropping a tiger cub on her head and multiple visitors (including children) getting bit by animals
  • Allowed a volunteer to feed an adult tiger a boiled egg from the volunteer’s mouth and, in another instance, permitted a volunteer to take a picture while sandwiched between two adult tigers

PETA notes that Edmonds failed his first relicensing inspection last year, after he was cited for a number of AWA violations. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service currently lists his license as canceled.

“The writing is on the wall for this shady exhibitor, who’s spent years ignoring citations and repeated appeals to improve life for these animals,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA urges the USDA to permanently revoke Edmonds’ federal license, keeping his backyard menagerie closed for good.”

More information about Edmonds’ past AWA violations is available here.

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

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