PETA Calls On Feds to Deny Hattiesburg Zoo an Endangered Species Act Permit

Menagerie With History of Animal Welfare Violations Woefully Unqualified to Enhance Survival of Endangered Animals, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
December 3, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Hattiesburg, Miss. – PETA has just filed formal comments with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) opposing the Hattiesburg Zoo’s application for a permit to breed endangered animals. In its comments, PETA points out that captive-bred wildlife permits require licensees to enhance the propagation or survival of the species in the wild—and the facility has failed to propose any sort of plan for caring for the 18 species it seeks to be covered by the permit, let alone given any indication as to how displaying captive animals will enhance wild populations.

PETA also notes that the zoo’s staff lacks the experience and expertise necessary to run a conservation and breeding program, and its consulting veterinarians primarily practice small-animal medicine. The current enclosures are small, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has repeatedly found them to be rusty and deteriorating.

“The Hattiesburg Zoo cannot be allowed to breed more animals when its own records indicate that it can’t properly care for the animals it already holds captive,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “The key to saving wild animals lies in saving their habitat, not breeding and warehousing them in cruel menageries.”

According to the USDA, the zoo’s tiger enclosure doesn’t provide adequate shelter from the elements, one primate was housed alone with no plan for enrichment, and housing for endangered lemurs didn’t have a sufficient means of cooling. The zoo was cited for 10 animal welfare violations during a single inspection in August. Animal safety is also a problem. According to the zoo’s own records, a jaguar repeatedly ate and regurgitated opossums and a large rat who had gotten into the endangered animal’s enclosure, and in May 2012, two endangered lemurs escaped from their exhibit after a door was pushed open.

PETA's comments are available upon request. For more information, please visit

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind