For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Bandon, Ore. – This morning, PETA sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Director of Animal Welfare Operations Robert M. Gibbens, urging him to initiate an investigation into West Coast Game Park Safari over false claims made by the roadside zoo’s employees to a USDA inspector about the use of animals in public encounters there. PETA is also calling on the USDA to terminate the facility’s exhibitor’s license and refer the evidence to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
The claims in question arose after PETA alerted the USDA to a social media post from January showing visitors to West Coast Game Park Safari petting a young jaguar named Lucifer and a juvenile brown bear named Betty, in apparent violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. During the agency’s subsequent inspection of the facility, workers there claimed to the inspector that neither Lucifer nor Betty had been used for petting since December 2022—a direct contradiction of the post from January as well as photo and video evidence obtained afterward from several visitors showing these animals regularly being used in public encounters.
“West Coast Game Park Safari brazenly lied about using dangerous wild animals in stressful photo ops,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA is calling on the USDA to investigate and throw the book at this shady outfit—and asks everyone to stay away from animal-exploiting roadside zoos.”
The USDA’s inspection resulted in a critical citation for West Coast Game Park Safari for allowing members of the public to have direct contact with dangerous animals over the age of 16 weeks. The facility has also been cited for failing to handle other animals properly, including for displaying a tiger on a choke chain without sufficient barriers between her and the public; allowing excessive public handling of a young bobcat and a bear cub, putting them at risk of contracting a disease due to their undeveloped immune systems; exhibiting a skunk and a ferret who were both lethargic and unresponsive; and allowing unsupervised visitors to pet, feed, hold, and chase goats, fallow deer, llama, sheep, and reindeer.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service urging the agency to investigate West Coast Game Park Safari for its apparent violations of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which prohibits all contact between the public and big cats.