PETA Slams Tri-State Zoo’s Groundhog Day Stunt

Group’s Warning Comes as Lawsuit Proceeds Against Roadside Zoo’s Alleged Neglect of Animals

For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Cumberland, Md.

With the notorious Tri-State Zoological Park slated to provide a groundhog for the Groundhog Day event downtown, PETA sent a letter today to Melinda Kelleher, the executive director of the Cumberland Downtown Development Commission, urging her to skip the live groundhog altogether.

PETA notes that groundhogs are prey animals who actively avoid human contact and transporting them to unfamiliar locations while they should be hibernating and subjecting them to being around unfamiliar humans is extremely stressful for them. The novel coronavirus is also transmissible between humans and other species, so the event would put Murray the groundhog at risk of COVID-19 infection.

“PETA is asking the kind people of Cumberland to pass on hiring a chronic animal neglecter to harass a vulnerable groundhog for a spectacle no one needs,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “Traditions evolve as times change, and it’s time for Cumberland to move its Groundhog Day celebration in a compassionate new direction, sans terrified animal.”

PETA’s request follows a recent ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, which denied Tri-State’s motion to dismiss the civil complaint filed against it by PETA and a concerned citizen alleging that the roadside zoo’s neglect and abuse of more than 100 animals creates a public nuisance.

PETA prevailed in its previous federal lawsuit against Tri-State, resulting in the transfer of three big cats to an accredited sanctuary in Colorado and a ruling prohibiting the roadside zoo from owning or possessing endangered or threatened species. The judge found that five animals protected by the Endangered Species Act who had died there between the time PETA gave notice of the suit and the trial—one of whom was so ravaged by sepsis that pus-filled pockets had formed in her heart, tongue, and diaphragm—endured “early and tragic” deaths at Tri-State and described conditions at the facility as “fetid and dystopic.”

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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