PETA Lawsuit Takes On License Renewals of Facilities That Violate Animal-Welfare Laws
For Immediate Release:
August 26, 2015
David Perle 202-483-7382
Wilmer, Ala. – PETA filed a lawsuit this morning in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that challenges its policy of automatically renewing federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses. The USDA does this even when the agency knows that the applicants are in violation of the AWA—such as The Mobile Zoo in Wilmer.
The AWA, which the USDA is charged with administering, prohibits licensing a facility that is not operating in accordance with the act. Yet The Mobile Zoo was cited 26 times before its license renewal in June 2015. These citations include repeated instances of failing to clean the virtually barren enclosure in which the facility imprisons Joe, a highly social chimpanzee who has spent years in total isolation and for whom PETA has filed a notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act. The facility also failed to consult a veterinarian for a bear who was vomiting in May and a tiger who had dramatic weight loss, leaving her hip bones visible. Citations before and after the license renewal also documented dirty food and water bowls, feces and food waste littering enclosures, and other chronic sanitation issues.
“The USDA hands out license renewals like Halloween candy to exhibitors who leave caged animals to suffer without veterinary care when they need it,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the government to stop rubber-stamping the applications of businesses that abuse animals and break the law.”
PETA’s lawsuit argues that applicants cannot simultaneously violate the AWA and be in compliance with it—so the USDA’s rubber-stamping policy is illegal.
Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include exhibitors in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.