PETA Celebrates: No Exotic Animals at Wilson’s for at Least 5 Years

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Winchester, Va. – PETA has just learned that Keith Wilson, owner of the now-defunct roadside zoo Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester—where officials found animals in squalid and inadequate conditions, many without food or water—has entered into a plea agreement in Frederick County Circuit Court. He has pleaded no contest to 27 of his charges and will not be allowed to own exotic animals for five years, the maximum term available.

Because of his plea, Wilson will also be ineligible for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) exhibitor’s license for at least three years, which will prevent him from profiting from the exploitation of any USDA-regulated animals remaining in his possession.

Below, please find a statement from PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet:

Kind people everywhere can celebrate the news that there will be no exotic animals at Wilson’s Wild Animal Park, where PETA documented bears baking in the sun, among other dismal conditions. PETA will be watching closely, and if this criminal ever tries to get his hands on another lion, tiger, or any other exotic animal, the campaign against his abuse will pick up right where it left off.

Wilson’s cruelty-to-animals charges stemmed from conditions discovered during the execution of a search warrant by the Virginia attorney general’s Animal Law Unit in 2019, following years of work by PETA. The unit seized 119 animals, including lions, tigers, and bears, over the course of two days, and the seizure was upheld and the custody of the animals was awarded to the unit following a 12-hour hearing in which animal welfare experts testified to the “inadequate conditions and cruelty” they observed at the facility.

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

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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