Mobile Zoo Under Fire for Dangerous Direct Contact With Chimpanzees

PETA Alerts Authorities to Dangers at Decrepit Roadside Zoo

For Immediate Release:
November 5, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wilmer, Ala.

PETA sent a letter this morning to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration calling on the agency to investigate The Mobile Zoo after videos surfaced on its Facebook page that show an employee allowing a 26-year-old chimpanzee named Joe to touch, handle, and place his mouth near her hands and to rub her ear. The agency has recognized that chimpanzees are capable of causing significant physical harm to humans and that close contact with the animals puts employees’ safety in serious jeopardy.

“A chimpanzee is a ticking time bomb after spending years in miserable isolation in a cramped, filthy, and barren cage,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the authorities to put a stop to this dangerous direct contact and pushing for this chimpanzee’s release to a sanctuary, because what he needs is the companionship of other chimpanzees, not the inappropriate substitute of a human zookeeper.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has submitted notice of its intent to sue The Mobile Zoo, contending that the barren, solitary conditions that Joe is confined to violate the Endangered Species Act. The group is also seeking to have him transferred to an accredited sanctuary where he can enjoy the company of other chimpanzees and receive the expert care he deserves.

The Mobile Zoo has been repeatedly cited for failing to address Joe’s social and psychological needs. It has also allowed gawking visitors to throw peanuts at him, causing him to lash out aggressively in response. Unsafe and unsanitary conditions are also a chronic problem at the facility, which has allowed cobwebs, flies, rust, and garbage to accumulate in Joe’s enclosure. The standard of care at this roadside zoo is so poor that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed a lawsuit against it for its long history of violations, which could result in permanent revocation of its license to exhibit animals.

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