Laughing Valley Ranch Surrenders License to Exhibit Animals

For Immediate Release:
December 30, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Idaho Springs, Colo.

After years of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), pleading guilty to cruelty to animals, facing a license termination proceeding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and seeing its license challenged in a PETA lawsuit against the USDA, local animal exhibitor Laughing Valley Ranch has finally surrendered its AWA license.

Among other violations, the USDA has repeatedly cited Laughing Valley operator William B. Lee III for failing to provide animals with adequate shelter, adequate veterinary care, and access to potable water and for denying USDA officials access to his facility. County officials seized over 100 animals from the facility in 2012 because of concerns about their condition, including an extremely underweight llama, a dog who was limping with a bruised and swollen foot, and a reindeer who was in such poor shape that she had to be euthanized.

“After years of profiting off animals while denying them veterinary care and even drinkable water, Laughing Valley Ranch has finally forfeited its license,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director and Counsel of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “Neglect is the norm at roadside zoos, which is why PETA urges everyone to stay away from businesses that exploit animals.”

In 2013, Lee pleaded guilty to violating state cruelty-to-animals laws, prompting the USDA to initiate a license termination proceeding against him, which is still pending. Three months later, the USDA also filed a complaint against Lee for over 100 alleged violations of the AWA. Nevertheless, the USDA automatically renewed Lee’s license seven more times, simply because he turned his paperwork in on time—a “rubberstamping” practice that prompted PETA to sue the USDA in 2018. The agency has since changed its licensing regulations and is ending the rubberstamping of license renewals.

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

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