PETA to Feds: Pull the Plug on Notorious Animal Exhibitor’s License

Authorities Can’t in Good Faith Renew Roadside Zoo Operator’s Animal Welfare Act License, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
July 9, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Hillsboro, Ore.

This morning, PETA filed a request urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to terminate notorious animal exhibitor Steven Higgs’ Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license or deny its renewal when it expires on July 14. Higgs operates A Walk on the Wild Side, a roadside zoo in Hillsboro that supplies big-cat cubs for use in photo ops at fairs and events across the Pacific Northwest and has a long history of animal-welfare violations.

In the letter, PETA points out that the AWA calls for licenses to be denied when the applicant “[i]s or would be operating in violation or circumvention of any Federal, State, or local laws.” Higgs was recently hit with the maximum fines for violations of Washington County laws related to the feeding, breeding, and management of exotic animals. Washington County has now enacted an ordinance—set to go into effect on September 17—that would ban A Walk on the Wild Side from keeping exotic animals. In its previous location in Canby, the roadside zoo was also cited for violating zoning laws relating to its confinement of wild animals.

“A Walk on the Wild Side walks on the wrong side of the law and wrongs animals at every turn,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the USDA not to sign off on allowing this shady roadside zoo to continue using terrified baby animals for cruel photo ops.”

The facility was cited in 2017 for the illegal transfer of a 2-week-old tiger cub who was likely forcibly and prematurely separated from his or her mother for use in photo ops. It has been cited more than once for transporting newborn wild cats and for confining dangerous animals, including big cats and bears, to inadequate enclosures, thus endangering the public.

After PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposed A Walk on the Wild Side’s application for an Endangered Species Act permit, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied the permit on the grounds that the roadside zoo lacks expertise with the species it holds.

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