PETA Calls for Investigation, Disciplinary Action Against Dallas World Aquarium

Facility’s Capture and Attempted Export of Critically Endangered Sloths From Panama Not Acceptable by Any Standard, Group Says

For Immediate Release:
September 17, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Dallas — This morning, PETA sent letters to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) requesting an immediate investigation of the Dallas World Aquarium (DWA) in the wake of the facility’s attempt to export and confine wild-caught pygmy three-toed sloths from their natural habitat, Isla Escudo de Veraguas. Not only is the attempted export of the animals from the island off the coast of Panama—which was foiled by protests at the Bocas del Toro airport—cruel and an environmental nightmare, it also violates the professional and ethical codes of both the WAZA and the AZA that govern the taking of animals from the wild. PETA has also asked both organizations to take appropriate disciplinary action against the DWA.

Panama and the International Union for Conservation of Nature list the sloths as critically endangered. Although fewer than 100 pygmy sloths are believed to be living on the island, the DWA captured and attempted to remove nearly 10 percent of their entire remaining population. In response to the unrelenting pressure from local residents, the DWA eventually released the animals back into the wild.

“It appears that the welfare of these gentle sloths, the codes of conduct for the two zoo and aquarium associations, and the very survival of this critically endangered species were disregarded in favor of the Dallas World Aquarium’s self-serving interests,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “PETA urges members of the public to steer clear of aquariums and zoos that confine animals to tiny tanks and cages and deny them everything that’s natural and important to them.”

PETA was alerted to the capture and attempted importation by locals in Panama, who resumed their airport protest at the DWA group’s hotel. An international sloth expert who contacted PETA about the incident explained that because sloths do not survive well in captivity and the complete diet of the pygmy sloth is unknown, forcing these animals into captivity would likely kill them.

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